Devon paedophile police officer Danny Bryant jailed

Danny Bryant Police surf club coach Danny Bryant took advantage of weekends away to commit abuse

A paedophile policeman who abused boys for more than a decade has been jailed for six-and-a-half years.

Danny Bryant committed several of the offences as an official of a police surf life saving club in Devon, Taunton Crown Court heard.

Bryant, 65, of Bideford, admitted 10 indecent ­assaults against five boys between 1974 and 1985.

The case has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Bryant helped run a Surf Life Saving GB club affiliated at Saunton Sands in the 1980s when Russel Dawson said he was abused a number of times.

'Mentor and hero'

Mr Dawson, who was 14 when the abuse began, has waived his right to anonymity.

He told police in a statement that all the members of the club saw Bryant, who was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1985 for his youth work, as a "mentor and our hero".

But from 1983, Bryant took advantage of weekends away to abuse Mr Dawson.

The abuse continued until 1988 when Mr Dawson heard that Bryant had abused another child not connected with the surf club and reported it to the police.

Russel Dawson said abuse by Danny Bryant was "covered up" by police

He said he gave a detailed statement, but police later wrote to him saying they "did not feel they had enough evidence to prosecute".

Mr Dawson then consulted a solicitor about taking legal action, but he said that he was visited later by a chief inspector who warned him and his family about the "horrendous ordeal" a civil case would be and he agreed to drop it.

Bryant continued as a PC in Devon and Cornwall Police until he was suspended in 1993 after another victim came forward.

Mr Dawson's mother offered to help police investigate, but he said "she was told that they did not need her help and she was asked not to call them again".

Start Quote

The reason it wasn't prosecuted was not as a result of a cover-up”

End Quote Det Ch Insp Dave Thorn

Bryant retired on medical grounds in 1994, but was only charged this year.

Mr Dawson said after the case that the abuse had been "crippling and devastating".

He said: "The police covered it up and since then it has been incredibly difficult getting on with my life."

Sentencing Bryant, Judge David Ticehurst said it was "a matter of regret that the force did not bring him to justice before".

Det Ch Insp Dave Thorn said after the case: "The reason it wasn't prosecuted was not as a result of a cover-up.

"It was the result of insufficient evidence.

"Having said that, we are willing to learn lessons if there were investigative techniques which we used at the time were not up to scratch."

Esther Pearson, chief executive of Surf Life Saving GB (SLSGB), said the organisation had been unaware of the allegations until it received a letter from Mr Dawson on 19 October last year.

Bryant lost his membership of the organisation and was barred as a volunteer the next day, she said.

Ms Pearson said that Bryant had had no contact with children in his role in the organisation since 1993.

She said: "We take our safeguarding policy in regard to volunteers who have regular contact with children very seriously."

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