Sept 2001

Man jailed for assaults on boy

A man involved with the Scouting movement for more than 26 years has been jailed for sex offences against a schoolboy he befriended.

Mark Wheeler, 68, admitted he gave the boy between £1 and £15 for every time he molested him. He admitted four counts of indecent assault and was jailed for two-and-a-half years

The offences began three years ago when the boy was aged eight, Basildon Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor John Fairhead said Wheeler, of Alexander Road, Great Wakering, used to take the boy on outings. It was nothing to do with the scouts. Everything went well until Wheeler began touching the boy.

Mr Fairhead said the touching was mainly on the outside of the boy’s clothing.

He went on: “The boy was scared of the defendant and frightened to tell his mother what had happened.

“When the defendant was arrested he accepted that he had touched the boy and gave him money.”

Wheeler was asked by police why he offended. He replied: “No particular reason. It was out of curiosity. It was a silly mistake.”

His barrister, Colin Allan, described Wheeler as a frail, lonely old man with no friends or family who had spent years with the Scouting movement. He had no previous convictions and was himself the victim of assault in his youth.

Mr Allan added: “He simply gave way to his feelings where this young boy was concerned.

“He did not intend any great harm.”

In sentencing the defendant, Judge Daniel Worsley told him: “You assaulted this boy over three years and you bribed him with money.

“But worst of all you terrified him and placed him in an increasingly impossible position before he could finally tell his mother.

“It was an appalling and wicked betrayal of trust. You have fallen low, very low, at the end of a long and decent life.”

Wheeler’s name will also be added to the national sex offenders’ register.