June 2003

Sordid scout master caged for abuse

A HIGH-RANKING scout leader who systematically targeted and abused boys for sexual pleasure has been jailed for six years. Michael Harry Watling, aged 62, of Crookston Road, Eltham, was given concurrent sentences for 16 offences against eight boys, aged 14 to 15 and a further six-months concurrent for the indecent assault of a 21-year-old, at Woolwich Crown Court

The former PR man for the UK Atomic Energy Authority, was originally charged with 37 offences relating to 11 youngsters. He pleaded guilty to the 17 charges sentenced on — the remaining 20 counts will lie on file.

The court heard how the scout leader bought youngsters cigarettes, meals and trips to London. On one occasion, at an Eltham scout hut, he showed one boy pornographic films and introduced him to alcohol.

His reign of abuse, which centred around official and unofficial trips organised by him, came to light in May last year, when a victim came forward to police.

When police searched Watling’s home they found two boards containing innocuous pictures of youngsters taking place in various scouting activities, the montage included a roll-call of the boys he had abused.

One of his victims, who still feels unable to trust people in relationships, said in a statement: “If you upset Mike you didn’t get invited to Monmouth or a gang show. If I didn’t let him do the things he did, I know I would not have been taken to the Edinburgh gang show.” Watling, who held several posts including assistant county commissioner for community development, resigned from the Scouts last year following a caution for indecent assault by West Midlands Police, relating to incidents between 1970 and 1972.

Sentencing, Judge Philip Norris said: “Quite clearly you were always the instigator of what occurred. Under the cover of being a scout leader you were systematically targeting and corrupting scouts to satisfy your sexual desires.” Watling, who was also banned from working with children under 18 years old, will be placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely and was ordered to pay costs totalling £5,600.