Beds, Herts & Bucks

Clown jailed for sexually abusing boys in Hertfordshire

Charles Mason Image copyright Hertfordshire Police
Image caption Charles Mason plied boys with cannabis and ginger wine

A man who used magic tricks and exotic pets to lure victims to his home has been jailed for sexually abusing boys.

Children's entertainer Charles Mason, known as Marmaduke the Clown, abused five boys between 1985 and 2002.

St Albans Crown Court heard one victim had been systematically abused from the age of 11 to 16.

Mason, 65, of Abridge Road in Theydon Bois, Essex, was convicted of 16 counts of indecent assault and jailed for 16 years.

The court head Mason plied the boys with cannabis and ginger wine and made them watch pornography before engaging in sex acts.

'Manipulative'

Judge Marie Catterson said: "You earned your living as a children's entertainer and kept a menagerie of exotic animals.

"Youngsters were keen to visit you and you exploited that for your gratification."

She said the abuse had a "profound and incalculable effect" on the five victims who felt shame and a loss of confidence.

"Each victim suffered through your exploitation of their youth and natural naivety. You were emotionally manipulative of all of them," she added.

Mason had denied 18 counts of indecent assault, which took place when he lived in Turnford and Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire.

He was found not guilty of one count and the jury could not decide on the other.

Defence barrister Lucie Wibberley said Mason was of previously "unblemished character" and had not used force or violence.

Mason must register as a sex offender indefinitely and abide by the terms of a sexual harm prevention order for 20 years.

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