Published: February 3, 2012
Police and Scouts react to guilty verdict for Burnham Scout leader

A court has found former Burnham-On-Sea Scouts leader David Burland guilty of 33 sexual offences against children.

Mr Burland, 54, from Ramsay Way, was convicted at Taunton Crown Court on Friday (February 3rd) of carrying out the abuse over a 23-year period.

The 33 offences, which related to three boys and a girl, were committed between 1987 and November 2010 when he worked in the Scout movement in the Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge area.

Detective Constable Mark Fudge, from Avon and Somerset Police, said in a statement after Friday's conviction: "He hid behind his role as a Scout master and hoped people would not report him."

"Someone did report his inappropriate behaviour and an investigation was quickly launched."

"This uncovered other victims and I applaud them all for the strength it must have taken to come forward. This demonstrates that we take all allegations of abuse seriously and will explore them thoroughly."

A spokesman for The Scout Association added: "Burland was suspended from any form of contact with the movement as soon as police began their investigations and he has not been involved with the movement since his arrest."

"We can confirm that he will never again be allowed to work within the Scout movement. The Scout Association has co-operated fully with the statutory agencies during this case."

During the two-week court trial at Taunton Crown Court, one of Burland's victims told jurors how he was forced to watch a pornographic film when he was 14 years old. He told the jury he had not wanted to watch the film but Mr Burland had forced him to. He said: "I have never felt anything like it before or since. I just wished the ground would open up."

Prosecutor Ian Fenny told the jury of eight women and four men that Burland was a sexual predator who manipulated his victims. "Of course there came the moment when he made one mistake that let the cat out of the bag," he said. "It was perhaps careless, perhaps arrogant."

"He abused a young girl in a way that worried and disturbed her. She confided in a lady... it was on one occasion in the presence of this lady that the defendant actually touched his victim in a wholly inappropriate way. That allowed her to say to this woman, 'did you see what he did to me?', she said, 'yes. I did'. It was after this that investigations began."

Mr Fenny told the court Burland had used beer and pornography to convince the boys to engage in sexual activity with him. He would pressure them, telling them not to be "silly", that it was all "normal" and a bit of fun, and threatening them by saying he would tell people they were gay if they told anyone about his abuse.

Mr Burland took the witness stand during the trial and strongly denied the allegations by claiming that they were a "complete invention".

Family members took to the stand to support his account of events. Defence solicitor Rebecca Bradbury also read several character references for Mr Burland from friends and others outside his family which highlighted Mr Burland’s devoted time to the Scout movement.

Sentencing will be held next Friday (February 10th). He has been remanded in custody.


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