FORMER retained firefighter David Bryant was jailed for six years today after being found guilty of raping a schoolboy in Christchurch almost 40 years ago.

The 63-year-old was silent as he was led from the courtroom, watched by family members and friends in the public gallery, and also by his victim, Danny Day, who has waived his right to anonymity.

Sentencing him at Bournemouth Crown Court, Judge Samuel Wiggs said he was jailing him for the least possible time he was allowed, reduced from a starting point for the offence of ten years imprisonment.

“It is difficult to think of anybody who has shown, over the years, a stronger sense of civic and public duty than you have,” he said.

“It may be as your counsel said, that you were trying to repay in some way what you did on that day almost 40 years ago.”

During the trial, the court heard that Bryant and a fellow retained firefighter, Dennis Goodman, who is now deceased, had befriended Mr Day and invited him to play darts with them at Christchurch Fire Station during the 1970s.

During the incident in question, the victim, then aged 14, was held down over a table by the pair, who then took it in turns to rape him while having sex with each other.

Mr Day said his decision to go to the police was partly inspired by the Jimmy Savile revelations.

Judge Wiggs said he believed Bryant, then 26, was strongly influenced in the crime by Mr Goodman.

“On that one occasion, the only one in your life, you committed a very serious criminal offence,” he said.

The court heard that more than 30 letters from friends, family and former colleagues of Bryant had been written to the judge, and one of the writers, former Dorset Chief Fire Officer Martin Chapman, addressed the court in mitigation.

“Over the past 18 years I have known him (Bryant) to be considerate, courteous and dependable,” he said.

“I was stunned by this conviction; this is not the man I have known.”

Mr Day, 50, said he was very disappointed with the sentence.

“I don’t think justice has yet been fully served in this case,” he said.

“It is as though because he has led an unblemished life since then that somehow makes up for it.

“But I do still want to encourage anybody who has experience this sort of thing to come forward. It can’t be left alone.

“I also want to thank the police and the Crown Prosecution Service who did a sterling job, and to say that I think this incident has no bearing on the fire service itself.”

Bryant, of Grove Road East, Christchurch, still denies his guilt. He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.

DURING the sentencing hearing the court heard evidence that Bryant’s accomplice, Mr Goodman, had a prior conviction for a sexual crime against children.

Prosecutor Rob Griffiths said Goodman had been convicted of inappropriately touching boys aged 13-15 through their clothes while “play-fighting”, also at Christchurch Fire Station.

He said Goodman was fined for the offence, which took place some years after the rape.