Former Horsham Scout Leader Jailed over Sexual Assault of Girls

Former Horsham Scout Leader Jailed over Sexual Assault of Girls

A FORMER scout leader and soldier has been convicted of a string of sexual offences targeting children.

Oliver Cooper from Bognor was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault on six-year-old girls as well as taking indecent photographs of a child and 13 counts of voyeurism.

The 27-year-old student was a Beaver Scouts leader in Horsham at the time he committed the offences, which was more than two years ago.

Appearing at Lewes Crown Court this month, Judge Mooney said the former Household Cavalry soldier showed a lack of remorse for his actions and sentenced him to six years in prison.

The sentencing comes after a lengthy investigation by detectives from the West Sussex Safeguarding Investigation Unit after a young girl told them Cooper had sexually touched her.

Officers acted quickly and arrested Cooper, finding shocking images and videos of children getting undressed in private when they searched his phone and laptop.

As the investigation into the extent of his offending continued, a second 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 the University of Sussex, 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 informed as soon as allegations were made against Cooper, and worked with police to ensure all necessary safeguarding precautions were taken.

He appeared at Lewes Crown Court yesterday and was found guilty 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.

Lewes Crown Court

He was sentenced to a total of six years imprisonment, and will be on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

Cooper was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, to last until further court notice, which severely restricts his access to children, and was also disqualified from working with children and vulnerable people for life.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "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."

Harry Bullmore