October 2015

Paedophile jailed for 10 years for raping boy nearly 40 years ago and fleeing to Sweden

munt

A paedophile who raped a teenaged army cadet in Gloucestershire almost four decades ago has finally been brought to justice after being extradited from Sweden. 

After raping the teenaged boy in Churchdown, in the late 1970s, ex-soldier Robert Munt fled to Stockholm – where he continued to prey on young boys and served three jail terms for sexual assault and rape in the 1980s.

Yesterday at Gloucester Crown Court Munt, 67, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted by a jury of an offence of male rape of the boy he had met on a bus 38 years ago.

The victim, now a married man in his 50s based in the Midlands, did not report Munt’s crime against him until 2009 when he felt he could not keep the secret any longer.

Although Munt had called himself Robert de Vere when he befriended the boy, his mother he gave away enough clues about himself for Detective Constable Dave Powell to discover his true identity and track him down to Sweden.

Having built up a file of evidence to satisfy the Swedish authorities that Munt was their man, Gloucestershire police began extradition proceedings last year. In January this year Det Con Powell travelled to Sweden and brought Munt back to the UK to face British justice.

Munt protested his innocence and denied that he was the Robert de Vere who had subjected the boy to the brutal rape in his own bedroom in Churchdown. But a jury of six men and six women unanimously convicted him after a three day trial and he was sentenced by Judge Jamie Tabor QC to 10 years in jail.

The judge told Munt: “From the time of your discharge from the army until the mid or late 1980s you were in my judgement a predatory paedophile preying on young boys and satiating your sexual desires, usually by force.”

Judge Tabor made a lifetime sexual harm prevention order against Munt, forbidding him from having any contact with boys under 16, and also ordered him to sign the sex offender register for the rest of his life.

The judge said he would commend Det Con Powell to his chief constable for his “tenacity” in identifying Munt and tracking him down.

In evidence during the trial Munt’s victim told how he had been to an army cadets meeting in Cheltenham and was on his way home on the bus when Munt got on board and sat near him.

Munt told him he had been in the army and was looking for a job locally as a physical education teacher. He also revealed that he was from Honiton in Devon and that his parents lived there.

Bizarrely he told the boy that when at home with his family he had to dress formally for dinner – but he then showed the boy a pic of his parents home, an ordinary council house.

It was those clues, recalled by the victim more than 30 years later, that enabled the officer to identify Munt – who had briefly been employed after the rape as a swimming instructor in Cinderford, before leaving the country.

The jury heard that ‘De Vere’ visited the boy at his home on the pretext of helping him with his future army career and chatted to him and his mum over cups of coffee on about half a dozen occasions.

Prosecutor Mary Cowe said: “There came a time when the victim became uncomfortable about this man visiting him because he had touched him on the knee.

“The mother also became uneasy. Eventually she’d had enough of him visiting and she hung up a bag containing all the gifts he had given her son and left a note saying he was not welcome any more.

“However, on a Wednesday, De Vere went to the boy’s home looking for him. The mother was out. The boy panicked and hid in his bedroom under the bed.

“De Vere went into the house and into the bedroom. The boy told him he had a sports injury. De Vere insisted on looking at it. He made him take off all his clothes and as the boy lay on his bed paralysed with fear the man assaulted him.

“Later, the victim saw a newspaper report of a man called De Vere applying for a job as a swimming instructor in Cinderford.

“A chain of events led to the victim coming forward in 2009 and the police beginning an investigation to try to find the man called De Vere.

“Police found that in 1978 a Robert Munt had been spoken to as part of a general investigation into the disappearance of a woman in Devon.

“He was one of many people spoken to. But he told the police at that time that he sometimes travelled under the name Robert De Vere.

“He also said his parents house was in Honiton.

“Through records held the police established that the defendant had been in the army and had applied for a job as a swimming instructor at a school in Cinderford in the 1970s using the name De Vere.”

After Munt’s conviction Ms Cowe told the court he had been convicted of indecent assault on a boy in Sweden in 1983 and jailed for three months. In 1984 he got two months for a similar offence and in 1989 he was jailed for two years three months for raping a boy.

Ms Cowe also revealed that Munt’s sexual offending had begun in the UK in 1971 when he forcibly molested a young boy he had met in a swimming pool.

Before Munt was sentenced yesterday his victim stepped back into the witness box to read out a victim impact statement he had written explaining how his life had been affected by the crime.

But he was too overcome with emotion to read it himself and asked Ms Cowe to do so.

In the statement he said he had endured a lifelong “struggle” since being preyed upon by Munt.

“He skilfully manipulated us, befriending my mum and me,” said the man. “I was so scared when he walked into my house uninvited that day and raped me.

“I ask myself why me? What had I done to be hurt in this most awful way? I feel lost and helpless, tortured and ashamed, and this feeling has not gone away nearly 40 years later.

“I wanted to die. My loved ones suffered because of his behaviour. No matter how hard I worked or how much money I earned I still suffered pain because of this man.

“At one stage I felt the only option would be to end my life. I stood with enough tablets in my hand to enable me to do this but I couldn’t.

“I so wanted my life, a life of pain, to end. Every night I wished I would not wake up in the morning.

“I will never know what sort of partner and father I could have been if Robert de Vere had not entered my life that day.”

Outside court the man said: “I am over the moon that he was convicted and that he has got 10 years – although I would be happier if he had to serve it all instead of just half before getting parole.

“It is a great relief that it has all finished at last. I hope I can now move on with my life and put this behind me.”