December 12 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter Mike Souter has today been jailed for 22 years for a string of serious sexual offences against boys across almost two decades.
"Souter exploited his local celebrity status and connections to gain access to children, and this also provided him with the perfect cover for his offending as he appeared to be an upstanding member of the community whom no-one would challenge."
The 60-year-old, of Low Bungay Road, Loddon, had denied 19 counts of historic child sex abuse against seven different boys aged between 11 and 16, between 1979 and 1999.
But a jury at Norwich Crown Court found Souter guilty of all counts on October 17 following a trial lasting more than five weeks.
He was remanded in custody while the case was adjourned until today.
Souter showed no outward emotion in court when his sentence of 22 years was announced before being led away to start his time behind bars.
Norfolk Constabulary is working with partner agencies to prevent child sexual exploitation, support victims and bring offenders to justice. Anyone affected by anything raised during the Michael Souter trial can contact police on 101.
The freephone NSPCC helpline 0808 800 5000 is available for anyone to report or seek advice relating to the case. Calls can be made anonymously.
Norfolk Sexual Assault Referral Centre, The Harbour Centre, operates a 24-hour service for victims of sexual abuse and can be contacted on 0845 456 4810, or contact police on 101 to report a crime.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is the UK’s only children’s charity dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse and runs a Freephone confidential helpline 0808 1000 900.
In total Souter was sentenced for 26 offences and six of the offences were given a sentence of 22 years in prison.
However, all the jail terms are to run concurrently, so Souter is due to serve a 22-year sentence. He was also disqualified from working with children indefinitely.
Judge Mark Lucraft branded some of Souter’s evidence as “bizarre” and his attempts to blame his victims, the police and Judge Lucraft himself of conspiring against him as “pathetic”.
He described Souter’s crimes as “a most appalling catalogue of abuse of the grossest kind”.
Judge Lucraft told Souter this afternoon: “You used your status working for the BBC, working for the local football club and with the Scouting organisation to meet, groom and then to abuse these boys.
“Many of your victims spoke about your status as a local celebrity - introducing them to footballers and to well-known people - taking them out to places they had never been to before. Many of them spoke about how freely available alcohol was in your home.”
He had been described as “a deviant sexual abuser of young boys, particularly boys in uniform and those wearing shorts” by prosecutor Andrew Shaw.
The former broadcaster had vowed to clear his name after being charged with the offences and insisted none of the events happened and that the victims had falsely accused him or colluded against him.
He also accused the police of putting indecent images on his computer after he was arrested in 2011 and even at one point during the trial accused both Judge Lucraft and Mr Shaw.
But the jury of nine men and three women took just four hours to find him guilty.
Judge Lucraft said: “The evidence against you on these counts was overwhelming and the jury rightly rejected your pathetic attempts to blame the victims and others.”
Souter was also sentenced for a further seven counts of making and possessing indecent images of young children which were found on a computer following his arrest, which he was also found guilty of.
During the trial the court had heard how Souter had used the address email@example.com to receive some of these images, with Judge Lucraft continuing: “The jury had before them numerous emails and other documents from your computers that you sought to explain away as adult fantasies.
“In evidence you suggested that someone was sending you this material for malicious reasons. The email traffic produced in the course of your evidence showed that these images were coming to your active email addresses and in many instances you were responding to the items sent to you.”
Souter received a sentence of six months in prison for each of the seven counts, a total of three and a half years, although these will also run concurrently with the highest sentence of 22 years.
Following today’s sentencing, Norfolk Constabulary’s senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Paul Brown, said: “This case demonstrates the importance of victims coming forward, no matter how long ago their experiences happened.
“Souter exploited his local celebrity status and connections to gain access to children, and this also provided him with the perfect cover for his offending as he appeared to be an upstanding member of the community whom no-one would challenge.
“Once the investigation started to uncover more about his past, we found he had repeatedly offended and displayed extremely concerning behaviour online.
“The judge stated that in his view, Souter would, given the opportunity, pose a high risk of offending again. The offences for which he has been jailed today were committed over a 30-year period. I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of abuse at any time to report it, regardless of when it happened, as their abuser could still be exploiting others today.”
• Officer says it was “one of the worst cases of prolonged child abuse”
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• Accused apparent self-confidence belied his guilt
• Video: Former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter Michael Souter ‘maintains his innocence’ despite being found guilty of child sex offences