Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

'Savile' effect snared ex-presenter

A detective has described how the "Savile effect" is encouraging victims to report sex attacks to police after a former BBC presenter was jailed for two decades of abuse.

Ex-BBC Norfolk and former Radio Clyde broadcaster Michael Souter was ordered to serve 22 years in prison after being found guilty of 26 offences including indecent assault, indecency with a child, serious sexual offences, and possessing indecent images of children.

He abused seven boys in the 1980s and 1990s in what officers said was "one of the worst cases of prolonged child abuse" they had dealt with.

Police believe there may be more victims and are investigating further claims.

Speaking outside court, Detective Inspector Paul Brown, from Norfolk Police, said that in the two weeks since his conviction more possible victims had come forward.

Referring to Jimmy Savile, he said revelations following the disgraced DJ's death had had a positive influence by encouraging victims of child abuse to speak out.

He added: "While I wouldn't compare Souter and Savile directly, both used their celebrity to cultivate a certain respectable image and both cases have served to highlight that social attitudes are changing and child abuse will be investigated rigorously by police.

"We have certainly seen an increase in people coming forward and hopefully convictions like this can continue to give people the confidence to do so."

Norwich Crown Court heard that the 60-year-old, of Low Bungay Road, Loddon, Norfolk, was a "sexual deviant" who was obsessed with young boys in shorts and uniform.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC said there were others not covered by the counts in this trial who were also abused by Souter.

He described Souter's attempts to claim that the allegations were fabricated as "pathetic".

"The childhood of many of your victims was destroyed and their lives blighted," he said.

"You took hundreds of photographs of boys in shorts and were the only person in this court who could not see these pictures for what they were."

He added that Souter displayed an "ongoing sexual obsession with boys" and posed a risk of further offending on his release from prison.

Prosecutor Andrew Shaw said Souter had mounted a "cynical defence" in the face of overwhelming evidence.

He had denied the offences, saying they were concocted, and that police had invented evidence as part of a conspiracy to smear his name - a defence he maintains.

One victim said in a statement read to the court: "Souter's insistence that he is innocent and that this is all lies and conspiracy has not allowed full release and closure."

Souter's barrister, Andrew Hill, said that, because his client continued to protest his innocence, he could offer little by way of mitigation.

"His position prior to these matters - the charitable works and many other local good works - will all be forgotten when it comes to sentencing," he added.

"A distinguished career in the Navy and journalistically now comes to nought."

The broadcaster was first arrested by police in 1993 but, because of a lack of evidence against him, he continued abusing boys for another six years.

During the trial, Mr Shaw told jurors that Souter used his celebrity status to abuse society's most vulnerable.

Originally from Scotland, Souter worked as a producer and presenter in both commercial and BBC radio since the mid-1970s.

He had previously presented for Radio Clyde.

Since 1989 he has worked as a freelance broadcaster and had run a media relations consultancy.

Souter's catalogue of abuse began in 1979 when he worked at BBC Radio Norfolk.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Souter's abuse escalated as he took up senior positions within the community, including as a Scout leader and social services youth mentor.

Two of the boys were "repeatedly abused" over five years.

Souter will be banned indefinitely from working with children.

He was also ordered to pay legal costs of £14,694 and may be forced to sell properties in the UK and abroad to pay this, the court heard.


From Belfast Telegraph