Ex-PCSO jailed over child sex abuse


A former police community support officer (PCSO) who was involved in caring for vulnerable children was today condemned as a "predatory paedophile" as he was sentenced to 10 years in jail for child sex offences.

Gary Hastings, 48, of Wright Street, Hull, showed no emotion as the judge said he had abused his position of trust to abuse two vulnerable young boys.

He pleaded guilty at York Crown Court last month to seven counts of sexual activity with two boys, aged 14 and 15, over a two-year period.

Sentencing him today, Judge Stephen Ashurst said: "This, on any view, is an extremely serious case, made more serious by the fact you have offended against two young men, who in my judgement were plainly vulnerable at the time."

Referring to his first victim, the judge added: "He was scared and confused. And in his own words, drawn from his victim personal statement, you completely messed up his life.

"It has left him acutely embarrassed and ashamed."

"This case is an example of the courage of young abuse victims in coming forward. There was here a very thorough and painstaking investigation.

"As a result of the courage shown (of the two victims) it is a demonstration that that is the only way in which a predatory paedophile can be brought to justice."

The judge said there was a breach of trust involved and a "huge disparity" in the ages between Hastings and his victims.

"You were three times older than these two boys," he added.

He said Hastings had denied he was sexually attracted to the boys, but he added: "The fact they were underage was a factor in your sexual makeup."

He said Hastings would have undergone training in child protection issues and must have been aware of the risks in coming into contact with teenage boys.

Hastings, who resigned from Humberside Police when the offences came to light, was also made subject to a sexual offences prevention order which limits his contact with young people.

Hastings began work as a PCSO in north-east Lincolnshire in March 2008 after undergoing "standard vetting procedures for this role", his former force said.

The court was told Hastings took his first victim on a trip to Newcastle in his yellow MG car and during the journey he felt his thigh.

The pair stayed at a flat where oral sex took place.

The victim said he felt "awkward and dirty" during the visit.

This pattern of having oral sex continued for some months but did not progress to anal sex, the court was told.

Hastings met his second victim through a gay website.

He was studying for his GCSEs and was 15 at the time.

Prosecuting, Simon Kealey, said on one occasion the victim turned up at his flat in his school uniform.

He added: "He asked him to change as he didn't want to come across as a paedophile."

On occasions when the victim refused to have anal sex with Hastings, he would "kick off", the court was told.

In mitigation, Mark McKone said Hastings had "destroyed his life" and as a former PCSO and convicted sex offender he would find prison life "particularly difficult".

He said he had held a responsible job and was hard working.

Superintendent Ray Higgins, head of the Professional Standards Branch at Humberside Police, said: "I welcome the sentence that has been handed out today.

"I recognise that Gary Hastings pleaded guilty at a very early stage and so has prevented his victims from being put through the traumatic experience of a lengthy trial, but nevertheless, it was his appalling abuse of trust that lead to these young men becoming victims and no doubt their experiences will live with them for the rest of their lives."

Hastings worked for Humberside Police as a PCSO between 2008 and 2011 and underwent the necessary vetting procedures before being taken on by the force.

He was suspended from duty in August 2011 when this investigation was under way and he later then resigned from the force in January of this year.

"I would like to reassure the public that Humberside Police does not take this sort of criminal activity of our staff lightly and we strive to ensure that any inappropriate behaviour by staff, be it criminal or otherwise, will be dealt with robustly," the officer added.