Trial begins for scout leader on alleged child sex charges

A SCOUT leader has gone on trial accused of 33 charges of sexual offences involving children.

David Burland, age 54, former leader of the 1st Burnham scout group, was charged with 18 counts of indecently assaulting boys aged under 16, on separate occasions.

He was also charged with 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.

Burland, of Ramsay Way, Burnham, pleaded not guilty to the charges, which dated from June 1987 to December 2010.

The court heard how Burland allegedly asked a 14-year-old boy to watch pornography with him, questioning the boy’s sexuality when he seemed reluctant in order to make him comply.

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The court heard how this was an attempt to ‘normalise’ the abuse and, Ian Fenny, prosecuting, said, ‘ensure his silence’.

Burland allegedly took the boy to his home and started to masturbate in front of him, touching the boy indecently through his clothes.

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Mr Fenny described Burland as ‘a sexual predator, someone who abuses youngsters for their own sexual gratification’.

He said: “A person every volunteer dreads, a man who uses his position to abuse those who come into his sphere of influence.

“The defendant was adept and skilled in selecting his victims and in the main, his victims liked him.

“They were confused by what he did. They were frightened.”

The court heard how Burland had allegedly began touching a 10-year-old boy after he became friends with Burland’s son.

The alleged abuse escalated as the boy entered secondary school age, the court heard.

Burland allegedly went into the boy’s bedroom while he was staying at Burland’s home and touched him, the court was told.

Prosecutors allege he was subjected to a range of abuse.

Mr Fenny told the court how Burland allegedly ‘corrupted’ the boy.

Prosecuting, Ian Fenny said: “This is a gross breach of trust.

“He is skilled and manipulative and he hides behind a cloak of respectability.”

Mr Fenny described Burland as a man with ‘easy access to alcohol and pornography’, which he told the court had been used to befriend the boy.

The court heard how the abuse only came to an end when the boy’s family moved away – but even then, Burland kept in contact with him, the prosecution alleged.

The court was also told of another alleged victim, a boy under 16 who was friends with Burland’s daughter and attended the same school.

The court heard how Burland allegedly stripped naked in front of the boy when he was visiting Burland’s home.

Burland allegedly ‘snogged’ the boy at the scout hut and later persuaded the boy to touch him inappropriately, the court heard.

Jurors were also told how Burland allegedly exposed himself to a girl under 16 and sexually assaulted her on three occasions.

Burland ‘put his hand in her pyjamas, rubbed her tummy, back and touched her leg’, the court heard.

It was when Burland touched the girl in front of a Beavers leader that his alleged abuses were exposed, the court was told.

He 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 denies all charges. The trial continues, and is expected to last two weeks.

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