Michael Pulsford jailed for Christian camp child abuse
A lawyer who represented defendants accused of sexual offences has himself been jailed for molesting children.
Michael Pulsford, 68, abused three boys and three girls while he was a Christian youth group leader between 1974 and 1989.
The victims, who were aged between 12 and 15, were abused in Wiltshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
Pulsford admitted 16 counts of indecent assault. He was sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison.
Southampton Crown Court heard Pulsford groomed children while he was viewed as a "pillar of the community" during summer camps, at his home and in his office.
His victims described Pulsford, of Corsham in Wiltshire, as "an evil manipulator" who had taken their "childhood innocence" by "abusing his position of trust".
One complainant came forward in 2011 but Pulsford denied the allegations and no further action was taken.
'Appalled at cases'
But police reopened the investigation in 2017 when another victim reported Pulsford for indecent assault.
A man told the court that coverage of the Jimmy Savile scandal prompted him to recall his own experiences of Pulsford, who had qualified as a solicitor-advocate and represented clients in criminal proceedings.
"I remember googling Mike Pulsford and being appalled at the number of child abuse cases he had defended," the man said.
He said he told police about being molested when asked if he had witnessed any abuse against another victim at a Christian camp in the 1970s.
Two more women came forward with allegations of indecent assault after media coverage of the case began, the court was told.
In mitigation, defence barrister Michael Phillips said the incidents of abuse were "extremely unpleasant, but not as unpleasant as they could have been".
He added: "He has accepted the title of being a paedophile, which is a rarity in these kinds of cases… hopefully it shows there is remorse."
Judge Peter Henry said the youth group Pulsford led had the aim of "instilling Christian values", but he had only been "pretending" to have those values.
"Throughout this period you were in a position of considerable power, influence and trust," the judge said.
"What you did in this period amounts to a gross abuse of this trust."