November 2008

Ex-boss of activities firm is jailed for sex attacks on children

A FORMER outdoor pursuits instructor has been jailed for three years for sexual assaults on three girls and two boys.

Howard Andrews, 45, formerly of Tiverton, but now of church lane Twineham was acquitted of 10 other sex charges by a jury at Exeter Crown Court

He was told by Judge John Neligan: “Because of the gross breach of trust there has to be an immediate custodial sentence.”

The judge said one way or the other the youngsters were in his care and almost without exception they said they trusted and respected him.

Andrews committed the offences when he worked at a residential school for outdoor activities which he ran.

He had pleaded not guilty to a total of 18 charges which spanned a period between 1985 and 1998, and he was convicted of eight of them.

Andrews was found not guilty of four offences of indecent assault and one of a serious sexual assault on a 13-year-old boy at a school in Sussex where he worked on outdoor activities.

He was convicted of one charge of indecent assault on another 13-year-old boy at the school, but acquitted of four others.

The jury convicted him of two charges of indecent assault on a 12-year-old girl at the school.

In the late 1980s, Andrews, now living in West Sussex, moved to Tiverton, where he ran the Marlin Leisure, taking youngsters on camping trips.

The jury convicted him of two charges of indecent assault on an eight-year- old girl during a camping trip to Swanage in Dorset.

He was acquitted by the jury of raping a 15-year-old girl in a tent on another camping trip to Dorset.

He moved to Surrey in the early 1990s, still running Marlin Leisure and an adventure club. The jury convicted him of a charge of indecent assault on a 13-year-old boy during a walking holiday in the South West, and of another charge of indecency with a child.

Andrews then went to work at a school in Surrey, where he was involved in Duke of Edinburgh Awards instruction.

He was acquitted of indecently assaulting a 16-year-old schoolgirl during a camping trip to Switzerland, but was convicted of a similar charge on another 16-year-old girl on the same trip. Defence counsel Sarah Munro QC told the court: “Over many years, he has been respected and held in great affection by hundreds, if not thousands of young people.

“Even those who gave evidence against him spoke of him in that way. They were not totally hoodwinked by an evil man.

“He has lived a blameless life for the last 10 years,” she said.

Detective Constable Alison Berry said Andrews carried out “classic grooming”. She went on: “He was a very manipulative man. He beguiled them and gained their trust.

“That is what makes it even more devastating for them.

“Most of them were vulnerable and craved love and affection.”

She said the victims had been incredibly brave, reliving their ordeals during the trial.

“Hopefully, these convictions will help them to move on from the terrible events they suffered,” she said.