Child sex abuser jailed three years

PUBLISHED: 10:23 04 December 2008 | UPDATED: 14:43 09 April 2010

A former outdoor pursuits instructor, who ran a Devon-based leisure company, has been convicted of child sex abuse charges. After a two-and-half-week trial at Exeter Crown Court, 45-year-old Howard Andrews was jailed for three years. Passing sentence, Jud

A former outdoor pursuits instructor, who ran a Devon-based leisure company, has been convicted of child sex abuse charges. After a two-and-half-week trial at Exeter Crown Court, 45-year-old Howard Andrews was jailed for three years. Passing sentence, Judge John Neligan told Andrews: "One way or another these children were in your care and, without exception, they trusted and respected you. "One of them regarded you as his elder brother. Because of the gross breach of trust, there must be an immediate custodial sentence. However, I accept that, since 1998, no fresh allegations have been made against you and you have led a blameless life." In addition to the prison term, Andrews was ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders' Register and was banned from working with children for life. Andrews, of Church Lane, Twineham, Sussex, had denied one charge of rape, 16 of indecency involving children and one of another serious sex offence. He was convicted by the jury of eight charges of indecency involving offences in Devon, Sussex, Surrey and Switzerland. He was cleared of child rape, another serious sex offence and eight further charges of indecency with children. Some of the offences which Andrews committed were when he was the boss of Marlin Leisure, based in Tiverton, and one occurred after a sailing outing off Exmouth. During the trial, the jury heard that Andrews had sexually abused boys and girls at schools in Sussex and Surrey when he was employed as a swimming coach and a residential assistant. The claims made by his victims ranged from serious sexual abuse to inappropriate massaging and stroking. Many of the victims said they looked up to Andrews, saying that, when he arrived at their school, he was a breath of fresh air and they "worshipped the ground on which he trod". But, while they kept silent at the time, they later at various stages in their lives realised what he had done to them was wrong and finally spoke out. In addition to the sex abuse of the school boys and girls, Andrews continued to sexually assault children after he set up an outdoor pursuits business in Devon. There, it was alleged, he raped a shy schoolgirl on a camping trip to Swanage in Dorset and committed a sex act with a girl in the shower of his Tiverton home after he took her back to the house when she was wet and cold after a sailing trip off Exmouth. The court heard that later Andrews had written a letter to the victims in which he said that he had "carried the burden of shame and guilt of his past behaviour with him". He also said in the letter that he was full of "loathing and disdain" for his behaviour. But, in court, he said parts of the letter were not true and he had only written it to make the alleged victims feel better. He said he was neither consumed by guilt or shame and that he would always maintain he had never sexually abused any of the victims. Giving evidence, he said the claims were fabrication and fantasy and possibly borne out of vindictiveness. However, the prosecution claimed the victims had no reason to make up the allegations and many of them, who told stories of similar abuse, had never even met each other. The offences were committed over a number of years, spanning the late 1980s into the 1990s. Mitigating, Sarah Munro QC said over many years Andrews had been respected, loved and held in great affection by hundreds, if not thousands, of children. Even those who had given evidence against him had spoken of him in that way, she said. Since 1998, he had not worked with children and had led a blameless life for the past 10 years.


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