August 2021

‘Selfish and cruel’ scout leader who robbed little girl of her childhood jailed

A ‘sadistic, selfish and cruel’ abuser from Devon has been jailed for 10 years for robbing a little girl of her childhood.

Neil Coles’s victim asked that he should be locked up for what he did to her when she was aged about seven, and a judge at Exeter Crown Court agreed.

Former scout leader Coles was described as a paedophile who seemed oblivious to the damage he had done by Judge Peter Johnson.

He declared Coles to be a dangerous offender who would remain a danger to young girls for as long as he was sexually active.

Coles was living in Paignton in the late 2010s when he abused the child.

Police were called in by teachers after the girl, then eight, was heard telling a friend about the abuse in the playground of her school.

She went on to make a video-recorded police statement detailing a pattern of grooming and increasingly serious sexual assaults.

Coles, aged 51, of Bidwell Brook Drive, Paignton, denied four counts of inciting a child to sexual activity but was found guilty by a jury at a trial in June.

He was jailed for 10 years with an eight year extended licence, put on the sex offenders’ register for life and made subject of an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order which bans all unsupervised contact with children after his release.

Judge Johnson told him: “You had previously been of good character, a scout master and a member of a parent teacher association and you have no previous convictions.

“You seem oblivious to the damage you have done. You display characteristics frequently seen in paedophiles in your attempts to deflect and minimise responsibility.

“In this case, your offending escalated gradually. It seems to me that you have no self-control and are able to delude yourself. These are long-term characteristics and I find that you are a dangerous offender.”

Speaking before the sentence, the victim’s foster mother said the little girl struggled to overcome the psychological effect of the abuse but is now doing well.

She is relieved that Coles is in prison and said she hoped he would get eight years and is now proud of herself about speaking out.