'He wrecked my world': Victim speaks out after 'twisted' former Northamptonshire Scout leader sentenced for historic child abuse

The victim was abused from the age of seven or eight for around four years

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 8:02 am

A victim who was affected by the actions of a former Scout leader and convicted child abuser has bravely spoken out about the years of torment inflicted upon him.

Christopher Richards was a firefighter, a 'pillar of the community' and helped out at Scouts group in Northamptonshire back in the from the late 1980s into the new millennium, before he moved to Devon in the 2000s.

After two victims from Northamptonshire and a number of victims from the South coast courageously came forward, Richards, of St Andrews Estate, Cullompton, Devon was charged with 12 cases of child cruelty.

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Christopher Richards has now been jailed for his offences against children.

On Monday (October 5), the now 53-year-old was sentenced to more than five years in prison at Exeter Crown Court after pleading guilty to the charges.

Now one of the local victims who stood up in court to read out his witness statement, has spoken to the Chronicle & Echo about the abuse, in the hope that it could encourage anybody else who was affected to come forward.

The victim, who does not wish to be named, was ‘seven or eight’ and was regularly attending a Northamptonshire Cubs group when Richards first touched him inappropriately back in the 1980s, when Richards was in his early twenties.

He said: “As a child you are naive, you don’t understand and you don’t fully comprehend what is going on.

“I wouldn’t say he spanked me, I would say he caressed, stroked and touched me.

“He would make me strip down, humiliate me and make me bend over his knee and touch my bottom.

“At the time, I would be crying my heart out so he’d stroke my head to calm me down.

“It would happen every time we went away on a camping trip.”

The abuse was always labelled as ‘punishment’ by Richards in response to something the victim says was a trivial thing or completely made up.

He recalls one time when he coloured outside the lines and was told by Richards that he would be ‘punished’ for it.

Similarly, when the young boy got a splinter, Richards bounced him on his knee, removed the splinter and told him that he would be ‘punished’ for it.

The now 38-year-old victim added: “On camping trips if you were short of money at the end and you wanted to buy a present from the gift shop, he would lend you money. He came across as the nice guy, but it was all made up.

“He would punish you for something that was made up. He would make a big thing out of it and blow it out of proportion.

“On the trips he would take you to another tent when others were out on activities and there would already be a chair there, so he knew what he was going to do.

“It was all premeditated. He thought about it and he put it into practice.”

At the age of 11, after around four years of abuse that lasted from 1989 to 1993, the victim describes starting to understand what was right and wrong and says he began to know what Richards was doing was not right.

This is when he spoke to other children about what Richards did to him, but those he spoke to laughed at him, which is when, he says, he started to disconnect from friends and family, refusing to go to Scouts and began to distrust authority.

In 2018 the victim found the courage to report the crimes to the police, as he wanted Richards to pay for what he did and was concerned that the ‘predator’ might still be committing offences.

“Now I know everything, I know he was a horrible, twisted man,” he continued.

“All he has done in his life is get into a position where he can get near children.

“He then used his position, authority and power to get children in a vulnerable position.

“It makes me sick and it’s inexcusable.

“No child deserves to have their life ruined before they have even taken a step into it.

“No matter what happens to him, it will never be better.”

Northamptonshire Police has confirmed that in the same year that this victim contacted them, another local victim who was abused by Richards between the ages of eight and 13 from 1997 to 2003, also came forward.

Statements were taken by local detectives and passed onto Devon & Cornwall Police, the authority dealing with the case.

Further victims from Devon, who were abused by Richards after his move, also came forward and provided statements for the prosecution regarding offences that continued until 2017.

“I was the only victim to read out my own statement in court. I wanted him to know what he did to me and I wanted to see the look in his eyes,” the local victim added.

“The stuff he did to those poor other boys was horrible. He hurt them.

“I feel guilty that these other boys suffered because I didn’t go to the police sooner. I’ll never forgive myself for that.

“With me, there was no physical pain as such. I was lucky that he didn’t physically hurt me. There was psychological and emotional pain though.

“For a long, long time he has been a demon in my head. He wrecked my world.

“I don’t believe for a moment that this is all there was or all there has been and whatever time he serves will not reflect the 30 years he has been a demon for me.

“A lot of people won’t come forward because of the stigma that goes with it and that breaks my heart.

“He has to be held accountable and I would plead with any other victims to come forward.”

Although the abuse suffered by the victim has, of course, left a lasting impact, he says there was great satisfaction in seeing his abuser sent to prison.

Richards was sentenced to five years and three months for his crimes. A Sexual Harm Prevention Order and restraining orders were also granted for 15 years.

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