Paedophile scout leader - judges reject appeal

David Burland.

David Burland. - Credit: Archant

A FORMER scout leader, jailed for his sickening abuse of children over more than two decades, has failed to convince Appeal Court judges his trial was unfair.

David Burland, who worked in the scout movement in the Burnham and Highbridge area, was convicted of a string of sex offences against children, which started in 1987.

He was jailed for 15 years, with an extended six-year licence period, at Taunton Crown Court in February last year, after being found guilty of 18 counts of indecent assault, 12 of sexual assault, two of indecency with a child and one count of indecent exposure.

The 55-year-old, of Ramsay Way, Burnham, this week challenged his convictions at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing they were ‘unsafe’ because the judge misdirected the jury.

They claimed the judge’s mistake clearly had an effect on the jury - as one member declared she did not agree with the verdicts.

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But his appeal was dismissed by three of the country’s top judges, who said the juror’s dissent came ‘too late’ and there was no basis to challenge the guilty verdicts.

Burland’s crimes came to light in 2010 after he sexually assaulted a girl who had previously confided in an adult that she was concerned about his behaviour towards her.

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It emerged he had also subjected three teenage boys to abuse, threatening them if they spoke out.

The former scout leader used beer and pornography to convince the boys to engage in sexual activity with him.

Most of the offences related to one victim, who suffered abuse over a six-year period.

Burland was suspended from the scouts when the allegations first surfaced and, after he was found guilty, the Scout Association said he would never work with the organisation again.

His lawyers urged the Appeal Court to overturn his convictions, saying the trial judge’s misdirection meant the jury’s verdicts could not be ‘safe’ - as shown by one juror’s ‘lack of agreement’ with the rest of the panel.

But, dismissing the appeal, Lord Justice Treacy said the juror’s dissent was ‘plainly too late’, coming after the jury had been discharged and left the building.

Sitting with Mr Justice Saunders and Judge John Milford QC, he added: “There is no basis upon which this jury’s verdicts are open to challenge, therefore the convictions are safe and the appeal is dismissed.”

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