A senior council officer who dressed as a tramp to sexually assault a string of schoolgirls was jailed for 13 years today.
During a "bizarre" double life of respectable family man and brutal paedophile, father of two Anthony De Boise would leave his £500,000 home, don dark sunglasses and scruffy clothes and then stake out local beauty spots for young victims.
Some had been playing with friends, while others were skipping school, when they fell into the clutches of a man colleagues called "Mr Nice Guy".
Those he targeted during a seven-year reign of terror were marched into wooded glades - sometimes at knifepoint - where they suffered often lengthy ordeals of pain and degradation.
London's Southwark Crown Court heard that most were cowed into submission with threats of rape, injury and death before being ordered to strip. All were deeply traumatised and left with near-crippling phobias.
The attacks between 1989 and 1996 triggered a massive but fruitless police hunt. There was also an unsuccessful appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch programme.
De Boise's unkempt appearance and the way he disguised his cultivated voice convinced officers they were hunting an unemployed down-and-out.
The reality could hardly have been more different. Their culprit otherwise dressed impeccably, was a qualified architect and enjoyed a well-paid job as a Wandsworth Council planning officer. Friends regarded him as "kind, caring, decent, considerate and gentle... someone who could be trusted".
It all helped to put police off the scent for 17 years... until his sister accused him of plundering his father's estate.
Although the charge was later dropped, the Met's cold case rape unit found a match between his DNA and samples and those retrieved after his attacks.
De Boise, of Hurtbank Cottages, Holmbury St Mary, Surrey, admitted six indecent assaults.
With his distraught wife Susan at one end of the court and several of her husband's victims - some sobbing - at the other, Judge Nicholas Loraine-Smith told the smartly-dressed defendant the long-term effects of his behaviour on his victims had been "terrible".
The judge went on: "The effect on the general public in that area and elsewhere is difficult to assess.
"But it must have meant firstly girls became much more frightened to walk anywhere on their own and secondly it must have meant parents becoming much more frightened about the safety of their child.
"Such is the ghastly ripple effect of offences like this committed in public places."
De Boise, who carried his attacks in the south London and Surrey areas, stood with his head slightly bowed as the judge said the reasons behind his attacks remained uncertain.
Judge Loraine-Smith said that the defendant may have been under pressure like many other people in society and a change in medicine to treat his diabetes may have affected him.
But ultimately he agreed with the psychiatrist's conclusions.
"It looks as though you were simply acting out your sexual fantasies and this fantasy life became more extreme as time went on," said the judge.
The judge said another uncertainty was why De Boise had suddenly stopped his attacks after seven years, and then remained offence-free until his arrest a decade later.
"But all the reports I have read about you persuade me that if the right circumstances arose you could well present a continuing danger to teenage girls.
"You followed them into secluded places, you attacked them, you used varying degrees of force, you threatened to kill or rape some of them, you produced a knife on occasions and even tied the hands of one girl behind her back."
The judge added that apart from his guilty pleas, which have saved his victims giving evidence in front a courtroom of strangers, one could not lose sight of the fact he had been a "hard worker, a good husband and good father".
"One cannot help but have sympathy for your family as well in this case."
De Boise, who was told he would have to serve half his sentence before being considered for parole, was told that upon his release he would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Outside court, De Boise's wife insisted a change in medication was to blame for his offending.
"Tony's family and friends, who have known him for up to 33 years, truly believe that the incidents occurred whilst he was in a state of severe diabetic hypoglycaemia, which has a profound effect on the brain."
Her husband, she added in a prepared statement after the case, was still "very much loved" by his family.
"I am heartbroken for everyone involved," she said.
One of De Boise's victims later issued a statement through police describing the devastating effect the attack had had on her life.
Now 24 and identified only as "Lindsey", she said the degrading assault left her unwilling to go to school, led her to change schools repeatedly and eventually move out of the area completely.
"Even now I still don't ever go out walking by myself," she said.
"It affected my mum the worst. She's been really ill over the last 10 years since it happened. It also affected my brothers and sisters, having to move away from our home.
"When the police came to tell me they may have found the man... it was a real shock and I was pregnant at the time. I was stunned that the police had managed to find me. I thought that it had all been forgotten about."
She added: "I don't feel anything towards De Boise at all."
Case officer Detective Constable Andy Lawrence said the defendant's string of attacks caused "mass panic in the area".
"He was a predatory sexual offender who preyed on young and vulnerable children. He acted with no regard other than to satisfy his own sexual lust.
"I am relieved that this dangerous man has finally been caught after a seven-year reign of terror. I am happy for the girls involved that justice has finally caught up with their attacker," he said.Reuse content