September 2009

Trowbridge kickboxing instructor jailed for 21 years after abusing 21 children

Kickboxing instructor Dave Prosser was branded a predatory paedophile and jailed for 21 years for sexually abusing 21 children.

Prosser, 50, of British Row, Trowbridge, targeted 20 boys and one girl, aged between nine and 13, while teaching martial arts at clubs in Wiltshire and west London.

His first attack took place over 20 years ago but he was not arrested until May 2 last year after one of his victims summoned up the courage to make a complaint to police.

Prosser, who plied the youngsters with cannabis and alcohol, showed no emotion as he was jailed on 51 charges including rape, attempted rape and sexual assault.

Judge Jonathan Lowen told him: “Over some 20 years you were not a true educator or a role model, you were in fact a predatory paedophile who had abused the trust placed in you at every opportunity.

“This court has heard shocking accounts of lives spoilt, some even broken by illness by what you did for your own sexual gratification.’

After the verdict, DS Tim Bramley, of the Child Abuse Investigation Command, said: “Prosser has spent years perfecting his grooming of young children who looked up to and admired him.

“He manoeuvred himself into a role that gave him access to young boys, giving him the opportunity to work with the boys physically and allowing him to progress from training exercises to abuse.

“Many of the victims were speaking for the very first time of the abuse they had suffered – it was a traumatic process for both the victims and the officer. Not all of those people spoken to felt they were able to give a statement to police but everyone was grateful that at long last Prosser would finally be stopped.

“The courage shown by the victims in finally talking about what happened to them, in some cases over 20 years ago, cannot be valued highly enough.’

Isleworth Crown Court heard that Prosser wormed his way into the confidence of parents and their children before abusing them.

Prosecutor Ian McLoughlin said Prosser was a highly manipulative character who used fear and intimidation, bribery and drugs to get his way.

The tutor started his campaign of perversion in Trowbridge where he ran one kick-boxing class in a club. He also ran clubs in Northolt Swimarama and Shadwell Drive, Northolt.

One 23-year-old had told the court that Prosser even followed him to school during the alleged abuse around ten years ago to intimidate him into keeping quiet about what was happening.

Speaking from behind a screen, the young man told the jury he had started classes at a club called Capone’s in Church Street, Trowbridge, in the 1990s when he was 12 or 13 years old.

But Prosser, a married father-of-two, eventually asked the youngster if wanted private lessons at his first floor flat in Newtown, which he said would improve his skills.

The witness told the jury that he was allowed to drink spirits including Pernod and smoke cannabis.

Referring to one incident he said: “I was drunk and things happened. I was sitting on the sofa and he came across to the settee and started touching me.”

He claimed the abuse lasted for up to six months before he built up the courage to stay away from Prosser, who he said on two occasions followed him to school.

Asked why he returned to the flat, he said: “I was confused. I felt intimidated by him. I felt scared.”

One boy, aged between 12 and 13 years old, has claimed he was the subject of abuse while a student at one of the Wiltshire clubs alleged that Prosser bribed him with the offer of a PlayStation in return for sex.

Another teenager, who said he had been abused, claimed he fled Prosser’s former home near Ealing Hospital when another man also asked him for sex.

Many of the boys told police he had plied them with alcohol, cigarettes or even cash.

Mr McLoughlin said: “He would start by flattering a boy in his class. He singled out a boy by saying ‘you are good at kickboxing, but you would be better with some extra tuition’.”

Prosser was arrested at his home in Trowbridge on May, 2, 2008, after a complaint from a man who said he had been abused by him ten years earlier when Prosser lived in Hanwell, Greater London.

One victim blames his kickboxing instructor for his schizophrenia and others have resorted to self-harm, drugs and violence in order to escape the physical and psychological torment.

One victim said he wanted to die after he was raped by Prosser.

In a statement read out in court he said: “He had asked me not to say anything. I didn’t know what to do. I felt disgusted.

“It put me into drugs and I spiralled out of control.

“To a certain extent what this man did to me has changed my life. After it all happened all I wanted to do was die.”

Another said he heard voices in his head telling him he was going to be a paedophile when he grew up, the court was told.

He has since been institutionalised.

“Mr Prosser flattered and gained trust, not only of the parents but of the children in order to get them on their own to a place of some isolation, his flat on his own,” prosecutor Ian McLoughlin said.

“That constitutes quite clearly a deliberate targeting of vulnerable victims, vulnerable through their naivety, vulnerable through their immaturity, vulnerable by virtue of their age.”

Prosser was tried with the sexual assault of two boys from Wiltshire at Isleworth Crown Court in 1997.

But a jury cleared the paedophile so he could return and continue to commit what became some of his worst crimes, the court heard.

The prosecutor continued: “The impact on all of the victims has been widespread and far reaching, following these people right through the rest of their childhood and into their adult lives.”

Prosser was jailed for a total of 51 counts of sexual assault on 21 victims.

The judge said: “Your name was associated with the teaching of a form of martial arts and you were a keen fisherman.

“But you detached these activities from their noble purposes and used them as boy bait.

“Boys you could most easily beguile by your charisma and who would be impressed by your promises,’ he added.

“The true purpose of your treatment was just to enable you to take your sexual pleasures at the cost of their innocence.’ He said Prosser groomed their sexual curiosity and interest over 20 years and scarred his 21 victims irreparably.

“They have lived under a dark shadow,” Judge Lowen said.

“This first sexual experience stained their memories with shame, disgust, humiliation, fear and anger.

“Many lived for years alone with these emotions, not knowing how to deal with the memories but unable to rid themselves of them.”

But there are many more undiscovered victims out there, according to police.

Senior investigating officer Mark Roope said: “There are certainly a lot more victims out there.

“Some of them I have spoken to and some of them I haven’t.

“The sentence he was given is reflective and is no more than the victims deserve. I am delighted with 21 years because in effect it is going to protect any other people from him.”