Ex-BBC DJ Michael Souter guilty of sex attacks on boys

  • 17 October 2013
  • From the section England

A former BBC radio presenter described as a "dominant predator" has been found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

Ex-BBC Radio Norfolk and Radio Clyde broadcaster Michael Souter, 60, was convicted of 19 sexual assaults on seven boys aged between 11 and 16.

Souter was a Venture Scouts leader, a volunteer mentor to young people and was even allowed to adopt a child.

Judge Mark Lucraft warned him he faced "a long period of imprisonment" when he is sentenced on 31 October.

Souter, of Loddon, Norfolk, stared straight ahead without emotion as the judge spoke.

'Celebrity status'

The jury at Norwich Crown Court also found him guilty of seven counts of making and possessing indecent images of under-18s, after a six-week trial.

He faced two more counts of possessing indecent images of a child, but was cleared of one and the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on the other.

Image caption Souter was a Venture Scout leader and was allowed to adopt a child

He was remanded in custody.

The court heard Souter used his celebrity status to abuse his victims.

He carried out the attacks between 1979 and 1999.

The jury of nine men and three women took three hours to reach their verdicts.

'Evidence was overwhelming'

After the trial, detectives revealed they were investigating further allegations of abuse against Souter.

Norfolk Police confirmed a "live inquiry" was continuing into outstanding claims.

A total of 595 people have been identified as witnesses and it is understood a number have raised concerns about his behaviour.

Det Insp Paul Brown, of Norfolk police's child abuse investigation unit, said Souter had shown no remorse.

"In the trial the evidence was overwhelming and he denied what had appeared to be really obvious," he said.

"There's no doubt in my mind his interaction with different agencies and organisations was based around the persona that he had around the county.

"He used that to ingratiate himself into situations to allow him to offend."

'Manipulative and predatory'

Sheila Lock, interim director of children's services for Norfolk County Council, said that when Souter first volunteered as a mentor for vulnerable youngsters, he underwent a "robust" assessment before he was allowed any contact with children.

"No concerns were raised through police checks, interviews or references," she said.

When abuse allegations came to light in 1993, the council took them "extremely seriously", she added.

"We worked alongside police to investigate the concerns and took appropriate protective action to safeguard the children Souter had had contact with.

"Souter was clearly a manipulative and predatory man and it is right that he will now serve many years in prison, having added to his victims' suffering by forcing them to give evidence.

"Souter's victims have shown incredible courage in coming forward after so many years and today's verdict proves it is never too late to speak out."

Image caption Souter was a presenter for BBC Radio Norfolk and Radio Clyde after a spell in the Royal Navy

Chris McCann, head of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) complex casework unit for the East of England, said: "Michael 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."

'Truly shocking'

A BBC spokesman said: "The crimes that Michael Souter has been found guilty are truly shocking and the BBC condemns them in the strongest possible terms.

"Michael Souter has not worked for the BBC since the early 1990s."

A spokesman for the Scout Association said Souter had not been a member for 25 years.

"The Scout Association condemns the actions of Souter and is pleased that the judicial process is now complete and he will now be punished for his crimes," he said.

The association had co-operated fully throughout this case, he added.

"We can confirm that he will never be allowed to work within the Scout Movement again," he said.

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