Published: February 10, 2012
Former
Burnham-On-Sea Scout leader David Burland jailed for 15 years

Former Burnham-On-Sea Scouts leader David Burland was jailed on Friday for 15 years after being convicted of 33 sexual offences against children.

Mr Burland, 54, from Ramsay Way, appeared for sentencing at Taunton Crown Court on Friday morning (February 10th) after carrying out the abuse over a 23-year period.

Judge Graham Hume Jones ordered him to serve 15 years behind bars, of which he is likely to serve half, with an extended licence period to run until he reaches the age of 75.

The 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 and Highbridge area. The offences included 18 counts of indecent assault, nine counts of sexual activity with a child, three sexual assaults and one exposure.

Detective Constable Mark Fudge, from Avon and Somerset Police, said in a statement: "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."

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, claiming that they were a "complete invention". Family members also 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.

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."


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