'A sexual deviant': Ex-BBC presenter Michael Souter found guilty of child sex offences

 

Former BBC presenter Michael Souter has been found guilty of a string of child sex offences spanning two decades.

The long-serving BBC Norfolk and former Radio Clyde presenter was convicted at Norwich Crown Court on a total of 26 offences against seven boys aged between 11 and 16 between 1979 and 1999.

The 60-year-old, of Loddon, Norfolk, was also found guilty of further counts of making and possessing indecent images of children.

Jurors have not reached a verdict on one count of indecent assault on a male and have also cleared him of one charge of possessing an indecent photograph of a child, a spokeswoman for the court said.

Prosecutors described Souter, who was also involved in the Scouts and a social services youth mentoring scheme, as a "sexual deviant" who was obsessed with young boys in shorts and uniform.

During the five-week trial, prosecutor Andrew Shaw told jurors that Souter used his celebrity status to abuse society's most vulnerable.

Mr Shaw told the court: "He worked in radio and television and was something of a local celebrity.

"The significance of his work, and his involvement with the Scouts and social services, is that these three roles brought Mr Souter into regular contact with pliable young boys and very often pliable young boys who were among society's most vulnerable.

"We say Mr Souter is a deviant sexual abuser of young boys, particularly boys in uniform and those wearing shorts."

Souter had denied the offences saying that he was the victim of a conspiracy in which allegations against him were made up.

Originally from Scotland, he worked as a producer and presenter in both commercial and BBC radio since the mid-1970s. He had previously presented for Radio Clyde.

Since 1989 he has worked as a freelance broadcaster and had run a media relations consultancy.

Mr Shaw said mistakes may have been made by the authorities in the past, but added: "As we have seen in recent high profile cases, victims often only tell what has happened to them when they are ready to."

The court heard that on one occasion Souter had plied a victim, who had a casual job at BBC Norfolk, with alcohol. The boy passed out and woke to find his trousers pulled down and Souter, who had not been drinking, molesting him.

Another victim was indecently touched by Souter while at a Scout camp, Mr Shaw said.

He took boys on trips to burger restaurants and theme parks and used his links with Norwich City Football Club to invite them to watch matches at Carrow Road, the court heard.

The trial heard that witnesses had felt unable to come forward because of Souter's high standing in the community.

Souter told the trial that one witness, who claimed he was forced to ask the presenter to stop touching him, owed his later career to his influence and contacts.

Prosecutors also told the court that possible offences committed by Souter abroad, including in Spain where he has a home, had been reported but could not be tried in the UK.

Head of the Crown Prosecution Service's complex casework unit for the East of England Chris McCann said: "Michael Souter is the classic example of the predatory paedophile who devoted most of his adult life to grooming and abusing young boys while maintaining a facade of the utmost respectability.

"Mr Souter presented himself to people as a local celebrity from radio and television, happy to be involved in charity events, the Scout movement and as a youth mentor for Norfolk Social Services.

"All this was a smokescreen to hide his true intention: to become close to young boys so he could sexually abuse them, confident that his celebrity status would mean they would not be believed.

"This is the tactic of the classic predatory paedophile who hides behind a facade of respectability to carefully select and groom his victims then subject them to repeated sexual assaults over a period of time."

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