March 2012

Ex-BBC presenter Peter Rowell jailed for abusing girls

Former BBC and ITV presenter Peter Rowell has been jailed for six years for sexually abusing girls.

He admitted 12 charges of indecent assault on girls under the age of 16, six charges of making indecent images and one of possessing images.

Rowell, 53, had denied a charge of rape and the jury at Bristol Crown Court accepted an alternative charge of indecent assault.

He assaulted his five victims between 1989 and the early 1990s.

Rowell was also placed on the sex offenders register.

Sentencing him, Judge David Ticehurst said the effect on his victims had been “considerable”.

“You had a position of trust in the media which you abused.

“You were prepared to use the world of showbusiness to attract young girls.”

The broadcaster, from Wickwar, South Gloucestershire, sparked a nationwide search after failing to turn up for work in March 2011.

His car had been found in a supermarket car park at Yate.

The father of one was found “safe and well” the next day in Keswick, Cumbria, and was later arrested by police.

Before his disappearance, police had raided his home and seized his computer.

On that computer detectives found more than 400 indecent images of children.

Speaking outside court, Det Insp Jill Kells praised the five victims for being “really brave” and “very courageous” in coming forward to explain what happened to them.

She said police were alerted when the first woman came forward just over a year ago.

A second then made contact and following Rowell’s arrest and charge, another three victims contacted detectives.

Det Insp Kells said a lot of the initial contact with the victims had been made through the studios of the then GWR station on Bristol’s waterfront after the girls had shown interest in the radio station and in Rowell.

“Mr Rowell abused his position of trust and respect and took advantage,” she said.

“Many of the offences took place at the radio station [GWR] and at a victim’s home address… but none of them were committed at the BBC or ITV studios.

“He used very predatory and grooming behaviour to groom them and then offend against them.

“I hope this sentence allows the victims to get some sort of comfort and closure and allow them to move forward.”

Sian Sullivan from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that despite the fact the offences took place some time ago, it would always prosecute if there was sufficient evidence and it was in the public interest.

“Peter Rowell used his fame to exploit innocent, starstruck young girls.

“Today shows this type of behaviour will not be tolerated by the justice system and offenders will be brought to justice, whoever they may be.”

Rowell, originally from Sunderland, presented the afternoon show on BBC Radio Bristol and BBC Somerset.

He was also a newsreader on ITV West for more than 10 years and worked as a DJ for commercial radio station GWR in the 1980s.