May 2021

Sex pest former Devon council leader jailed

A former Devon council leader with a ‘dark side’ has been jailed for sexually assaulting three women.

Brian Greenslade, 72, a long-time leader of Devon County Council, assaulted two of his victims while on council business.

He lunged at one of the women, trying to kiss her, and put his hands down her trousers while she tried to push him away. He groped and fondled the other women’s breasts.

Greenslade, who led the council for 16 years and was also chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority, denied any of the incidents ever happened and suggested one of the women had been ‘put up to it’ for political reasons.

But the jury agreed with the prosecution that he was ‘completely driven by ego and self importance’.

A judge sentencing him said he had abused his position of power and status when committing the offences.

Judge Timothy Rose said: “You’ve lived a long life in the service of your local community, particularly in the county of Devon.

“It seems to me throughout a large part of that period you had a dark side to you that you couldn’t control yourself in the presence of women.”

Greenslade, of Marwood, Barnstaple, was found guilty of two charges of indecent assault and one sexual assault dating back to the 1990s and mid 2000s.

He was jailed for 16 months.

The first incident happened when Greenslade was alone with the woman on council business. He suddenly lunged at her, grabbing both her arms and tried to kiss her. He then put his hand down the front of her trousers. She tried to resist and pull away but he was too strong for her.

The woman drove off in shock and disbelief at what had happened.

In a victim statement read to the court she said: “He was in a privileged position which he abused. I was completely embarrassed, ashamed and angry.

“I asked myself why he thought he could do that.

“This was a period when men had mistresses and men thought they could do as they liked.”

The second victim said she was assaulted by Greenslade during a function at the County Hall.

The leader of the council approached her and spoke to her before putting his arm around her and fondling her breast. She told him to move his hand or she would break his fingers.

She said she did not report the assault at the time because she thought she would get into trouble.

“It was a shocking experience and still shocks me now,” she said. It was only recently she had come to the conclusion that she had done nothing wrong and that Greenslade had acted in an outrageous way

The third incident happened in the 1990s when Greenslade was working as an accountant.

He stood behind a woman in an office and reached over to grab her breast. She could recall feeling sick and shaking while he just grinned. She said she had been terrified by the incident.

The process of coming back to court to relive the event in the witness box had given her a panic attack. She too had felt guilty for not reporting the incident sooner.

The court wass told that Greenslade could not ‘control himself’ in the presence of women.

The three women came forward with their allegations in 2018. It followed a public censure of Greenslade by the county council on the grounds of his harassment of members of staff.