Ex-BBC presenters Tony and Julie Wadsworth jailed for sex offences

Mugshots of the couple Image copyright Warwickshire Police
Image caption The Wadsworths are "sexual predators" who lived "double lives", prosecutors said

Two former BBC radio presenters have each been jailed for five years for indecently assaulting under-age boys.

Husband and wife Tony and Julie Wadsworth were found guilty by a majority verdict of encouraging six boys to take part in sexual activity between 1992 and 1996.

The couple were also convicted at Warwick Crown Court of outraging public decency by having sex in woodland.

The pair, of Broughton Astley, Leicestershire, had denied the charges.

Following a three-week trial, Julie Wadsworth, 60, was convicted by majority 10-2 verdicts of nine indecent assaults against boys and five counts of outraging public decency.

Her spouse, 69, who acted as a "look-out", was found guilty of the same charges, also by majority verdicts.

Both were found not guilty of three counts of indecent assault, one of which related to a single complainant.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The couple claimed they had "hanky panky" outdoors in order to boost Julie Wadsworth's self esteem

Some victims, who were aged 11 to 15 at the time of the offences, told the court Julie Wadsworth was variously dressed in a "flasher's mac" trench coat, white high-heels, stockings, suspenders and a split-skirt.

Prosecutors said the abuse took place at a number of locations, including the couple's then home in Atherstone, Warwickshire, as well as on a nearby golf course and surrounding woodland.

During the trial, the Wadsworths - who married in 1994 - told how they had outdoor "hanky panky" in order to empower Julie Wadsworth and help her with body image issues stemming from a troubled past.

She admitted having sexual encounters with "young men" but repeatedly denied any of them had been under the age of consent.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Julie Wadsworth "loved the attention" of young boys and her husband encouraged her, the judge said

In court it emerged that two groups of victims contacted police after a complainant realised what had taken place in the 90s "was not right and not appropriate".

In videos of police interviews played to the jury, the man claimed he had up to 15 sexual encounters as a teenager with Julie Wadsworth - around half of them before he turned 16.

On one occasion, the court heard, Tony Wadsworth joined in a "threesome" with the teenager at the couple's home after he turned 16.

Image caption The Wadsworths were known for sharing a suggestive sense of humour

Analysis: Phil Mackie, BBC News

Tony and Julie Wadsworth were a well-known double act in the Midlands, presenting together for more than two decades for BBC local radio in Leicester and in Birmingham.

The couple were known for their double-entendres and "Carry On" sense of humour - and played up to it on camera and for publicity.

Although little-known outside the Midlands, the case generated lurid headlines in the newspapers as details of the couple's sex lives were revealed in court.

Staff who worked with them said they had absolutely no suspicions about their sexual behaviour.

Another victim, who was 14 at the time, told the court he was "100% convinced" that a couple he saw having sex against a tree in 1992 were the Wadsworths and said she had performed a sex act on him.

One of the complainants told the trial Julie Wadsworth "must have known" her victims were under-age because of their physical appearance.

The sixth witness estimated that he was about 11 when he and older boys saw the Wadsworths having sex against a tree.

He was either 12 or 13 when he and two other boys were indecently assaulted, the man recalled.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC said the "grave" offences had caused emotional damage to all the victims.

He said Julie Wadsworth, had "loved the attention and that young boys were attracted to you" and her husband had encouraged the offences.

He said it would have been obvious to anyone that the victims - some of whom were riding bikes or climbing trees in parkland - were young boys.

Image caption The Wadsworths enjoyed a high profile among local radio listeners in the Midlands

As the verdicts were returned, Julie Wadsworth repeatedly gulped and wiped away tears. Her husband showed little emotion.

Mitigating for her after conviction, David Hislop QC said: "At 60 years of age, hers has been a tragic fall from grace... a period of incarceration will be made even more difficult for her, knowing the stigma attached to her convictions will carry on forever."

Tony Wadsworth's lawyer, Michelle Clarke, said the hardest thing for him would be being separated from his wife.

Speaking after the case, David Rouse, a senior prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service, said the couple had lived "double lives".

"In their public and professional lives they were a couple who came across as caring, warm and respectable.

"However, in their private lives, they preyed on young, impressionable victims for their own sexual gratification."

He thanked the victims for their courage in bringing "two sexual predators to justice".

Det Sgt Rhys Bower, from Warwickshire Police, said: "These two individuals gave no thought to the impact their actions were having on the young boys they abused; they were only concerned with their own gratification."

The NSPCC said: "The Wadsworths' behaviour has been exposed for what it is - child sexual abuse.

"Julie Wadsworth's fatuous claim in court that she was a victim in this case is insulting.

"The true victims were young boys who were repeatedly encouraged to engage in illegal sexual activity."

A BBC spokesman said the Wadsworths were last on air in December 2015 and no longer work for the corporation.

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