Former Horsham scout leader jailed for child sex offences
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A former West Sussex scout leader has been sent to prison for offences of voyeurism and a sexual assault, involving young children at scouting camps he helped to run.
Oliver Cooper, 27, a student, formerly of Kings Drive, Hopton, Staffs, and a former scout leader in Horsham, was found guilty at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday 15 October of; two counts of sexual assault on a girl aged six, one counts of sexual assault on a girl also aged six, one count of taking indecent photographs of a child, and 13 counts of voyeurism.
He was sentenced to a total of six years imprisonment.
He will be on the Sex Offenders Register for life, was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order to last until further court notice severely restricting his access to children, and was disqualified from working with children and vulnerable people for life.
Cooper was a Beaver Scouts leader at the time of the offences, which took place more than two years ago.
The conviction follows a lengthy investigation by detectives from the West Sussex Safeguarding Investigation Unit after a child disclosed that he had sexually touched her. As a result of that disclosure Cooper was arrested and indecent images and videos of children getting undressed in private were found on his phone and laptop. During the course of the investigation a further child came forward and reported a similar offence against her.
Detective Constable Rees Hopcraft said: “The young girls involved showed tremendous bravery throughout the investigation and were supported by specially trained officers. Despite the overwhelming evidence, Cooper continued to protest his innocence and thus forced the victims to give evidence, which was done via a video link to the court. In sentencing, Judge Mooney commented on Cooper's lack of remorse and the 'colossal breach of trust' involved.
"Prior to his scouting role he was a law student at Sussex University, and a soldier in the Household Cavalry where he served for four years in the UK."
The Scouts Association and West Sussex Childrens' Services were immediately informed of the allegations and have worked closely with police to ensure all necessary safeguarding precautions were taken.
Police emphasise that the Scouts Association has given full co-operation throughout the investigation.
Parents of all children who were in the group, including those whose children have been identified as subjects of the alleged offences, have been kept informed. There is no current safeguarding risk to any child.
See the Sussex Police website for information and advice on reporting sexual offences against children.