Glasgow & West Scotland

Kilmarnock air cadet leader Ronald Hardman jailed for abusing 12 boys

high court, Glasgow
Image caption Hardman will be sentenced next month

A man who served as an air cadet officer in Ayrshire for 35 years has been jailed for abusing 12 boys.

Ronald Hardman preyed on the youngsters during his time at the squadron in Kilmarnock between 1960 and 1995.

It comes after the 74-year-old was jailed for five years in November 2018 for abusing three teenagers.

He has now been given another nine years after admitting 15 further charges - including indecent assault - at the High Court in Glasgow.

'Years of anxiety'

In delivering his sentence, Lord Beckett described the crimes as "pre-meditated" and "grossly corrupting".

The judge added: "It is apparent that you deceived, manipulated, groomed and coerced the boys."

The hearing was told that Hardman was a trusted volunteer warrant officer at the Air Training Corps (ATC), but abused his position to "groom and control" the young cadets.

He would also try to buy their silence by giving them money, sweets or takeaway meals.

Prosecutor Eoghainn MacLean said: "Many of these victims have suffered years of anxiety and trauma as a result of the criminality."

The attacks occurred at different locations, including the squadron hall, a campsite and at Drumness Forest in Dumfries and Galloway.

The court was told that one boy - aged 13 when he joined the ATC - was abused between 15 to 20 times.

BBC documentary

Hardman gave him a can of lager and told the terrified child that it would be "good" for his "promotion" if he let Hardman touch him.

Another teenager was attacked with the help of two other cadets.

This victim was pulled to the ground and abused during a trip away with the corps.

The court heard Hardman took the opportunity to molest another boy during a fitting for a uniform.

The abuse also involved Hardman showing boys pornographic magazines and getting them to play strip poker or swim naked.

Police were reportedly alerted to Hardman's behaviour in about 2004.

However, in February 2017 a BBC documentary highlighted historical sex abuse in cadet forces.

The programme ultimately led to witnesses coming forward and Hardman's initial conviction at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last year.

Prosecutor Mr MacLean said: "Attempts were then made to trace as many cadets as possible who might have been abused by Hardman.

"Over 300 cadets were spoken to by police officers," he said.

The judge told Hardman that such conduct "besmirched" the reputation of organisations such as the Air Training Corps.

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