A FORMER Scout leader has been sentenced to nine years in prison for abusing boys over a 40-year period.

Paul Cherrett, of King Richard Drive in Bournemouth, carried out a “campaign of sexual abuse” on boys in his care at the Butchers Coppice Scout camp and Avon Tyrrell activity centre.

Handing down the sentence at Bournemouth Crown Court, Judge Peter Johnson described Cherrett’s offending as “persistent” and said that he had abused his position of trust to abuse boys as young as eight.

“The effect of your offending will live with your victims forever,” he added.

The court heard that the abuse spanned over four decades – starting in the 1970s with the most recent incident taking place last year.

Police were contacted by Scout leaders in early 2016 when “disturbing” footage of the defendant abusing a boy was recorded on CCTV.

Officers then appealed for other victims to come forward, and as a result, a further eight victims contacted police.

Judge Johnson said Cherrett, 62, had caused “immense harm” to his victims but that he had also caused harm to the scouting movement.

He said: “Society gets a great deal from the volunteers who run these organisations and selflessly give up their time to help young people. You have let them down.”

During court proceedings last week it was revealed that fears over Cherrett’s conduct with young boys had been raised with his superiors at the Scout Association in the early 1980s.

After bosses were made aware, he was banned from leading meetings.

However, he continued to act as treasurer for the organisation in Bournemouth and even worked at the Butchers Coppice tuck shop.

The child of a victim abused more than 30 years ago had recently bought sweets from Cherrett.

On Thursday Cherrett admitted 10 counts of indecent assault of a male under 16, three of indecency with a child and four of possessing indecent images of children.

He also pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity with a child.

During the sentencing Judge Johnson said Cherrett’s guilty pleas had avoided the need for victims to give evidence.

He sentenced Cherrett to nine years in prison noting that he would be out in half the time.

Speaking after the sentencing one of Cherrett’s victim’s said he didn’t really feel justice had been served.

“His abuse has been going on for 40 years, but he will be out in four-and-a-half years. It just doesn’t seem right,” he added.

Cherrett joined the Scouting movement in 1972 when he became an assistant Cub Scout leader for the 21st Bournemouth Scout Group.

He worked in this role until 1977 before volunteering as the assistant district commissioner for the Bournemouth West District until 1988.

He returned in the role of district Scout active support member at Butchers Coppice in 2010.

An NSPCC spokesman in South West England said: “Cherrett has finally been brought to justice following a campaign of sexual abuse against young boys which ran for more than three decades.

“He repeatedly abused the trust placed in him by parents and the Scout Association, to carry out numerous attacks on his vulnerable victims for his own sexual gratification – with no regard for the impact his actions would have on those he targeted.

“To speak out about sexual abuse takes a huge amount of courage, and it is vital that victims are listened to no matter how much time has passed.

“It is right that a full investigation is being carried out by the Scout Association to discover why Cherrett’s offending was allowed to go on for so long, despite complaints being made.”

Any adult concerned about the welfare of a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111.