July 2020

Former Army Cadet Force officer sexually abused South Yorkshire youngster

A former Army Cadet Force officer who raped and sexually assaulted a young cadet left his victim so traumatised he was plagued by nightmares.

Sheffield Crown Court heard on July 2 how Keith Bentley, aged 78, assaulted the young teenage boy in 1978 after they had been staying at a pub with other cadets following a shooting range exercise.

Richard Thyne, prosecuting, said the victim, who grew up in Barnsley and is now aged in his mid 50s, came forward after he had seen a BBC documentary about cadets.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, stated: “Throughout my life I have had an overwhelming sense of guilt because I did not do anything because I was just a child at the time.”

He added: “What he did has had an impact on my life. I think about it on a regular basis and I remember having nightmares about it for years.”

Mr Thyne said the cadets had been encouraged to drink beer and they slept in rooms above the pub where Bentley got into the complainant’s sleeping bag and analy raped him.

Bentley also indecently assaulted the complainant in similar circumstances when he entered a room and forced the complainant to perform oral sex on him, according to Mr Thyne.

Mr Thyne said the complainant told his mother and recalled Army Cadet Force officers attending their home but he got the impression they were carrying out a damage limitation exercise and the matter was not reported to the police at the time.

Bentley, of Town Street, Stanningley, Leeds, pleaded guilty to buggery and indecent assault on a child aged under 16.

The court heard Bentley has previous convictions including 17 counts of buggery, gross indecency and indecent assault on children from between 1966 and 1983 as well as trespassing with an attempt to commit a sexual offence at a boys’ outdoor pursuit centre and a common assault from 2006 and 2007.

Adam Birkby, defending, said: “The defendant takes full responsibility for what he did to the victim and he is remorseful and he hopes to continue with what has been a successful rehabilitation.”

He added Bentley is still subject to a safeguarding plan and a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and there has been no evidence of further offending.

Judge Sarah Wright recognised the CPS has conceded that if these complaints had come to light at the time of Bentley’s previous convictions they would have joined other allegations that were ordered to lie on file at that time.

She also acknowledged Bentley was given custody for the first set of previous convictions and served nine-years of custody after the second set of offending before he was released in 2016.

Judge Wright also considered the possible impact of custody during the coronavirus crisis upon Bentley and that he has expressed remorse and shown a prospect of rehabilitation.

Bentley was subsequently sentenced to a community order with a fixed residence requirement for 12 months.