Scout leader says ‘victims’ conspired against him

A SCOUT leader accused of dozens of sexual offences against children has claimed some of his alleged victims are engaged in a ‘conspiracy’ against him.

David Burland was speaking in his defence at Taunton Crown Court on Tuesday, where he is on trial charged with a total of 33 charges, which include 18 counts of indecently assaulting boys aged under 16.

Burland, of Ramsay Way, Burnham, denies all the charges, which also include 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 allegations are dated from June 1987 to December 2010.

Ian Fenny, prosecuting, said the 54-year-old former leader of the 1st Burnham Scout Group was a ‘skilled child abuser who knew what buttons to press.’

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A jury at the court had previously heard that he had allegedly forced a 14-year-old boy to watch pornography, before taking him to his home in Ramsay Way and performing sexual acts in front of him.

He is also alleged to have ‘snogged’ another boy at the group scout hut, and persuaded him to touch him inappropriately, while the prosecution claim he also exposed himself to a girl under 16 and sexually assaulted her on three occasions.

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Former Royal Navy serviceman Burland strongly refuted the accusations, telling the jury: “I think most of the children liked me, but not for the reasons that are being implied.”

He added the charges laid against him were ‘pure invention’ and claimed that ‘three or four’ of the children who had accused him were ‘engaged in a conspiracy’.

He said: “The four of them are using the same phrases in the statements they gave, I believe they have worked together on this.”

He said another accuser had ‘got her facts wrong’.

One of the accusations relates to an alleged incident where Burland took a boy back to his house and offered him pornography and alcohol, but he told the court: “There is no way that could have happened. He [the boy] did not have access to any alcohol or pornographic literature in my house.”

The trial is expected to conclude tomorrow or Friday.

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