A government researcher who abused two girls is facing jail after one of his victims recognised him on a bus after 40 years.

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A government researcher who abused two girls is facing jail after one of his victims recognised him on a bus after 40 years.

Leonard Davey, a former Topsham darts player, thought the secrets of his past were long forgotten but has been found guilty of assaults going back 50 years to when he was a teenager.

Davey, aged 64, was spotted by chance by one of the two girls he abused in the 1960s and 1970s.

Moments after she recognised him the bus passed a balcony where a girl aged about five had run outside naked.

Watching as he ogled the child, she realised she had a duty to report what had happened to her years earlier.

Davey had no idea he had been recognised until he was arrested and questioned by detectives, who uncovered a completely different set of allegations when they investigated his past.

In the 35 years that Davey harboured his secret he built a life as an apparently respectable citizen, having been happily married for 24 years.

He was employed as a research assistant for the Centre for Rural Policy at Exeter University for 18 years, where he worked on statistics for Defra and the European Commission and was highly respected in his field.

He also played darts at a high level, at first in leagues in Topsham and Exeter, then representing Devon.

Davey, of Higher Wear Road, Countess Wear, Exeter, denied six indecent assaults against one girl and three against a second. He was found guilty of all the charges and remanded in custody pending sentence by Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, who told him he should expect a jail sentence.

He nodded his head as the jury returned their unanimous verdicts, which were greeted with gasps of delight by the victims and their families in the public gallery.

During a four-day trial the two victims told how they were abused repeatedly, in one case when the girl visited Davey’s home, and on the other when he visited her parents and crept into her bedroom. The victim who reported him to the police said she had tried to put her childhood trauma behind her, but the chance sighting of Davey on the bus persuaded her she had to go to the police.

Davey told the jury that he had never touched that victim, but admitted sexual contact with the other girl when he was very young.

He said it happened when he was 10 or 11 and involved “doctor and nurse” games, sometimes with other children while playing on the canal bank in Exeter.

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