JUSTICE has finally caught up with a scout leader who abused four boys when he took them camping in the 1970s and 80s.
Brian Lewis, aged 81, of Gilpin Ave, Hucclecote, Gloucester, was jailed for a total of five years and three months for sex offences against the teenagers more than 30 years ago yesterday, Wednesday.
Gloucester Crown Court heard that three of his victims, then aged between 12 and 14, were scouts he took away on camping trips.
The fourth was a boy he preyed on after he had been asked to resign from the Scout movement in 1982 when there were allegations he had sexually molested other boys.
Jailing Lewis, Judge Jamie Tabor QC told him that as a result of his offences 'all your victims have suffered from various psychiatric problems, principally in forming relationships with others'.
Lewis admitted seven charges of indecent assault and two of gross indecency with boys dating from September 1978 to December 1984.
Julian Kesner, prosecuting, said the case had come to light thanks to the bravery of one of the three scouts who decided in September 2012 to report Lewis.
That man's disclosures led to police launching an inquiry which uncovered the three other victims.
The scouts all told similar stories of how Lewis would take groups of boys away on camping trips.
He had a camper van and boys would sleep with him in the vehicle or sometimes in tents, the court heard.
During the nights Lewis, who was usually naked, would unzip the sleeping bag of the boy next to him, grop him and perform sex acts with him.
All three scout victims had told police that Lewis was a good, friendly, knowledgeable and respected leader - but one with a dark side.
One victim said in an impact statement that he had kept what Lewis did to him a secret from everyone until police knocked on his door last year.
"I always knew that what was happening was not right," he said. "But I never understood how wrong it was. I was embarassed and ashamed of what happened.
"My relationships with girlfriends and partners suffered over the years. Only when the police contacted me did I have the courage to tell my wife of 11 years."
Another victim stated that Lewis was a 'fantastic scout leader' but he was abused by him in the camper van about a dozen times.
The man who finally blew the whistle on Lewis told how the scoutmaster would unzip his bag and perform simulated sex with him.
Even to this day he could recall the smell of Lewis' minty breath and the Brylcreem on his hair, he stated.
The victim stated: "I feel his guilty plea acknowledges he did wrong and that his behaviour was unacceptable and that a custodial sentence would satisfy public opinion. However, no amount of sentence can change what he did or the innocence he stole."
Mr Kesner said that in 1982 Lewis was asked to resign from the scouts after allegations were made by other boys - not those involved in the court case.
He then turned his attentions to a fourth victim whom he knew and started taking him on camping trips and molesting him. His offences against that victim went on for 14 months.
"Like the others he has been deeply affected and feels his whole life has been blighted by what happened," Mr Kesner said.
Joe Maloney, defending, handed the court references for Lewis including one from a former scout who went on to become a police officer.
"The references speak of his great leadership skills and of him passing them on to others," it said.
Mr Maloney referred the judge to a letter written to the court by Lewis in which he said: "Having carefully considered the situation regarding the charges against me by three of my scouts and the other boy I know I was weak at the time and my behaviour was not as it should have been. I accept that they are speaking the truth."
Mr Maloney said he hoped the victims would feel a sense of relief and closure following Lewis' admissions.
Lewis felt great remorse and wished to apologise to everyone involved, he added.
Judge Tabor told Lewis "There is no doubt that you have done considerable good within the community over your lifetime. You have impressed many people. Regrettably, as in some other recent cases, there was another side to you, the dark side, and it was a side that may not have reached the public's ears until after your death,.
"You became a scout leader in the 1950s and by the 1970s you had gained the trust of many parents within the county and elsewhere.
"You took children on expeditions all around. You were completely trusted to look after the childrens' welfare and as a scout leader that meant not only their physical welfare but their moral welfare as well.
"You used your role to gain access to young boys as a means of gratifying your sexual appetite.
"They were mostly under the age of 14 and particularly in the spirit of that time it would have been impossible for them to have complained - you knew that and you exploited it.
"Finally in 1982 the rumours about your conduct were sufficiently disturbing for you to be dismissed from the post. It would have been hoped that such a warning shot would have brought you to your senses and quelled your sexual appetite but it did not."