Former scout leader guilty of child abuse

A FORMER scout leader has been found guilty of sexually abusing youngsters over a period of more than 20 years.

A jury at Taunton Crown Court has today found David Burland, former leader of the 1st Burnham scout group, guilty of 33 charges against him.

They include 18 counts of indecently assaulting boys aged under 16, nine counts of sexual activity with a child, two charges of indecency with a child, three charges of sexual assault and one count of exposure.

The incidents took place over the space of 23 years, between 1987 and 2010, and involved three boys and a girl under the age of 16.

Burland was initially arrested in December 2010 after the catalogue of abuse came to light.

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Ian Fenny, prosecuting in the trial, described Burland as ‘a sexual predator, someone who abuses youngsters for their own sexual gratification’.

He added that Burland was: ‘adept and skilled in selecting his victims and, in the main, his victims liked him.’

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The 54-year-old Burland, of Ramsay Way, Burnham, had denied the charges.

One of Burland’s victims told the jury that he had been forced to watch a pornographic film with the scout leader when he was 14.

Burland had driven him to his home, and exposed himself before sexually assaulting him.

He was then accused of ‘being gay’ because he did not want to join in.

Another boy, who was friends with Burland’s daughter, was groomed by the scout leader who stripped naked in front of him at his home.

He ‘snogged’ the boy and persuaded the boy to touch him inappropriately, while he exposed himself to a girl and sexually assaulted her on three occasions.

Mr Fenny said: “The defendant was in a position of trust. This was not a relationship of equals.”

“The victims liked him, they trusted him, they spent lots of time with him.

“It is not something his friends, wife or children knew about. This is a dark factor of his life.”

Burland has been forced to sign the sex offenders register, and will be sentenced on February 10.

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