Ex-RAF man Eddie Graham sentenced to 13 years for child abuse

Image caption,
Graham was a scout leader on the RAF base in Berlin

A former RAF intelligence officer has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after being convicted of 23 sexual offences on children.

Eddie Graham, 63, carried out the assaults on boys, many of whom were aged under 13, while serving at the RAF Gatow base in Berlin during the 1980s.

He was also a scout leader on the base and used RAF buildings and surrounding land to carry out his assaults.

He was convicted by a court martial earlier in the month.

'Disgusting predator'

The allegations first came to light in 2003 when one of the former scouts made a complaint to police. The man then approached a different police force with the same complaint in 2012.

The matter was passed to the RAF Police because all of the offences were committed by a serving member of the RAF on an RAF base abroad.

That is why Graham, who has retired from the RAF, was tried in a military court, not a civilian one.

Graham was a senior member of the Scouts and met Prince Charles in 1985. All his victims were boys aged between five and 14 years old, and they were all children of serving military personnel.

He was arrested in January 2013 and admitted assaulting nine of the boys but denied assaulting four others.

Victims' statements

Image source, Julia Quenzler

Statements from 13 of the victims were read out in court, in which they told of the effects of Graham's abuse, here is a selection of what was said:

  • "I am not able to keep a serious relationship. I constantly felt scared of him, and vulnerable. For years I have had bad dreams, flashbacks."
  • "My whole life has been affected, I became a rebellious child, I was in trouble with police. I'm 42; I'm breaking down at night and thinking of all the things I've done wrong because of this."
  • "As a child I questioned my sexuality; as a result I tried to prove myself and had as many relationships as possible, to prove I was not gay. I saw professionals and was given many medications, and diagnosed as bipolar. What he did to me will never leave me. I wish to see him punished for what he did to me and others."
  • "I struggle daily with the pain of the abuse, the abuse has taken from me the ability to be confident and I cannot bring myself to have my own children as I feel I can not keep them safe. I am not able to keep a serious relationship. I am reminded every day of this disgusting predator."

A number of the scouts, who are now middle-aged men, gave evidence during Graham's court martial at the Military Court Centre in Bulford, Wiltshire.

The assaults would often happen during scouting weekends at the base. Some took place at a large, barrack-like building in an area called Wilson's Retreat, others in tents next to the building.

Graham claimed that, with the passage of time, the victims who gave evidence in court had either mistaken him for someone else, or had made up their stories.

The case has prompted calls for the military to be included in the inquiry into abuse, which has been set up by Home Secretary Theresa May.

Image source, Handout
Image caption,
Graham met Prince Charles in 1985

Before the judge passed sentence victim impact statements were read out in court. One victim described Graham as a "disgusting predator".

BBC correspondent Duncan Kennedy said Graham's was the biggest historical child sex abuse case to come out of the UK's armed forces.

Graham will remain on the sex offenders' register for life.

After the sentencing the RAF released a statement urging anyone who had been the victim of a sexual offence, or had information about sex crimes, to come forward and contact the RAF Police in confidence by phoning 0239 2285 170.

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