WEALTHY businessman Stephen Read has been jailed for 30 months for a string of sex offences against boys.
The 58-year-old founder and managing director of multi-million pound firm Enviro Technology Services was convicted of five charges last month.
Yesterday, a judge at Gloucester Crown Court called his crimes a “huge abuse of trust and responsibility”.
He had denied all 15 charges initially laid against him.
They related to incidents between 1997 and May 2012, when he took four boys shooting, swimming and fishing.
He also took them on regular trips on his car and to visit his boat. In that time he indecently or sexually assaulted two of the boys in question.
The other charges related to causing the boys to view pornography.
The allegations came to light when one of the victim’s mothers overheard a conversation, and one mentioned Read was a ‘paedo’.
Read’s barrister Jane Rowley, said: “Mr Read had good intentions to do good for these boys, but his judgement was flawed. What started out as fatherly advice turned out to be the start of something else. This trial has had an impact on my client both physically and emotionally.”
Judge Jamie Tabor said Read portrayed himself as a generous, patriarchal figure with the boys’ families, before the allegations emerged.
“There were two contrasting images I took away from the trial,” he said.
“On one hand you were a generous figure who founded a successful company that provided employment for many people.
“You held a position of great responsibility and trust.
“But you took advantage of that trust, particularly with one boy who was young and vulnerable.
“That is unforgivable.”
The court heard that since Read’s arrest, he had taken a back seat in the running of his business to concentrate on his defence.
As a result, the business had began to struggle and was forced to make a number of redundancies.
It was also revealed the business had been hit with a significant reduction in turnover and Read’s health had also suffered.
Mr Tabor said: “I have shown an act of mercy in your sentence, I would not wish your illness on anybody.
“You are not a well man and the time you spend in custody will not be comfortable for you.”
Read is due to receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for his illness, the details of which were not revealed in court, and also has ongoing treatment for diabetes, sleep apnea and serious back problems.
He is expected to serve half of his 30-month sentence, and will then be released on licence. He will spend the rest of his life on the sexual offenders register.
Businessman guilty of sexually abusing young boys
Wealthy businessman Stephen Read, 58, is facing jail after being convicted of sex offences against four boys.
The founder and managing director of multi-million pound Enviro Technology Services, was found guilty today of five charges after a nine day trial at Gloucester crown court.
Two of the guilty verdicts were on charges of indecent/sexual assault and the other three were for causing the boys to view pornography
Judge Jamie Tabor QC bailed Read, of Bussage,near Stroud until August 29.
The judge said he would grant Read bail as long as he lives outside the county pending sentence. This would allow him time to put affairs in order and ensure his business can run ‘in his absence,’ said the judge.
He added that it was also important Read is away from his home area because of ‘bad feeling’ there.
“I am well aware that this case has caused a great deal of bad feeling not only in the family but in the surrounding area and for his own sake I don’t particularly want him to go home because he has enough problems on his plate as it is,” the judge told defence barrister Jane Rowley.
“He knows what the almost inevitable outcome of the jury’s verdict is.”
The charges related to incidents between 1997 and May last year when the boys were visiting his home or going on swimming, shooting and boating trips with him.
Prosecutor Anne Vigars told the jury of seven men and five women at the start of the trial that Read “has over the last 15 years or so taken advantage of young boys under the disguise of being a kind and generous man.”
She said the offences came to light when a woman driving four 12-year-old boys in her car heard two of them talking about Mr Read being a ‘paedo.’
She asked the boys to speak to their parents about what they were saying and in due course their allegations against Read came to light.
Following local rumour in the area the other two victims also came forward.
Read denied two charges of indecently assaulting a boy between July 1997 and June 1999. He was convicted of one by an 11-1 majority but cleared of the other.
He also denied five charges of sexual assault of a second 12 year old boy between January and May 2012 and one of causing the same boy to view video of people engaged in sexual activity.
The jury found him guilty of two of those charges by majorities of 10-1 and 11-1 but not guilty of the other four allegatrions,
The third set of charges alleged four sexual assaults on another boy under-13 between April 2010 and April 2012 and one of causing that child to view similar pornography. The jury convicted him only of the pornography charge by an 11-1 majority.
The final two charges were of causing or inciting a fourth boy to engage in sexual activity and causing him to view pornography. He was convicted by an 11-1 majority of the pornography charge but cleared of incitement.
Read had denied all the charges and maintained he never did or said anything indecent to the boys.