December 13 2013 Latest news:
Friday, October 18, 2013
Predatory paedophile Michael Souter was today facing years in prison after decades of child abuse finally caught up with him.
The 60-year-old former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter is facing a lengthy jail term after being found guilty of 19 child sex offences against seven boys aged 11 to 16.
Souter carried out his attacks across a 20-year period and used positions within the BBC, Norfolk County Council and the Scout Association to gain the trust of his victims. His wicked actions went undetected for decades, despite a complaint to police in 1993 and a case presented to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2002 collapsing in 2004.
Norfolk police has revealed that its investigation continues as to whether there are further victims.
• Questions to Norfolk police:
Q. Are there believed to be any other victims out there?
A. At this stage there are outstanding lines of inquiry that police will continue to pursue – as this remains a live inquiry we cannot comment further. Anyone who may be affected by anything raised during this trial can contact police on 101. Norfolk Constabulary is committed to working with partner agencies to working with partner agencies to prevent child sexual exploitation, support victims and bring offenders to justice.
Q. Given the scope of Souter’s travels, so well documented in court, are you likely to be contacting other forces overseas to inform them about Souter?
A. Where identified we have informed agencies in other countries. It remains the decision of the authorities in the country concerned to take action as they deem appropriate.
Q. Do police believe Souter worked alone in terms of his abuse or are others now likely to be investigated following his conviction?
A. We have no evidence of Souter offending with any other individuals.
Q. Are Norfolk police satisfied that both the force and the CPS did all it could in the past to prosecute Souter? Could he have been prosecuted sooner and therefore potentially preventing him abusing further victims?
A. Michael Souter was arrested and interviewed in 1993. A thorough investigation was carried out and a file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service. On this occasion, there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a prosecution and no further action was taken. Souter was living abroad when complaints were made in 2002. The Crown Prosecution Service was consulted but a European Arrest Warrant was not authorised as there was insufficient evidence for this. When the complaint was received in 2010, a new investigation began. As well as receiving new information, detectives revisited the previous inquiries and as a result Souter was arrested and later charged with offences relating to the three victims who had made complaints in 1993 and 2002 along with a further four victims who had previously not made statements to police. We have received no complaints of Souter offending post 2002.
• Our questions to the Crown Prosecution Service about the case:
Q. Are you satisfied that you did everything you could in ensuring Mike Souter was brought before the courts at the earliest possible opportunity?
A. We no longer have the files on the decisions made in 1993 and in 2004 so we are unable to review those decisions and say whether more could have been done. The files were destroyed in line with our policy on record management. Following the Jimmy Savile case, it is now recognised that complaints of child sexual exploitation reported to the police and considered by the CPS in the past were treated with a degree of caution which is not generally justified. Since the Savile case the approach of police and prosecutors has changed. The work on this case demonstrates that the new approach does work.
Q. Why was the decision made that there was not enough evidence to take any further action against Souter in the 1990s?
A. We no longer have the file on that case, which was destroyed in line with our policy on record management, so we are unable to say with any certainty why the decision was made not to prosecute What we can say is that a lot has changed in the last 20 years in the way the criminal justice system approaches these cases, even though the evidential test has remained the same. We help and encourage complainants to support a prosecution. For example, we can now apply for special measures which, if granted, mean the complainant may give evidence from behind screens or through a video link – this was not available then. There is also closer work between the police and CPS to build strong cases.
Q. Why was it not felt there was not enough evidence to bring a case against Souter when further allegations were made in the early 2000s when he was overseas?
A. We no longer have the file on that case, which was destroyed in line with our policy on record management, so we are unable to say with any certainty why the decision was made not to seek a European Arrest Warrant.
Q. With the benefit of hindsight, were mistakes made on these occasions and what, if anything is being done to ensure that similar mistakes are not made in the future?
A. We no longer have the files on the decisions made in 1993 and in 2004 as they were destroyed in line with our policy on record management. So we are unable to say whether or not the decisions were the correct ones. Following recent grooming cases around the country (such as Rochdale and Oxford) and the Savile case – which the DPP has described “a watershed moment” – work is being done to improve the prosecution of child sexual exploitation cases This includes police and prosecutors being encouraged to build stronger cases by linking evidence and allegations where it is appropriate to do so; there is a network of child sexual exploitation prosecutors; draft guidelines on dealing with child sexual exploitation cases have been drawn up and a consultation has been held.