A FORMER BBC presenter dubbed a “predatory paedophile” was jailed for 22 years today after being convicted of sexually abusing seven boys over two decades.
Michael Souter, who previously work for both Radio Clyde and BBC Norfolk, was found guilty of 26 offences including indecent assault, indecency with a child, serious sexual offences, and seven counts of possessing indecent images of children, at a trial which finished earlier this month.
He was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court yesterday.
Police said the 60-year-old, of Loddon, Norfolk, was responsible for “one of the worst cases of prolonged child abuse” officers had dealt with.
Souter’s victims and their families packed the court for yesterday’s hearing.
Judge Mark Lucraft QC said there were others, not covered by the counts in the trial, who were also abused by Souter.
He showed no emotion as sentence was passed.
Judge Lucraft described Souter’s attempts to claim that the allegations were fabricated as “pathetic”.
“The childhood of many of your victims was destroyed and their lives blighted,” he said.
“You exploited your position to groom each of them. You took hundreds of photographs of boys in shorts and were the only person in this court who could not see these pictures for what they were.”
He added that Souter displayed an “ongoing sexual obsession with boys” and posed a risk of further offending on his release from prison.
Souter will be banned indefinitely from working with children.
He was also ordered to meet legal costs of £14,694 and may be forced to sell properties in the UK and abroad to pay this, the court heard.
After the conviction, Norfolk Police confirmed they were investigating further allegations of abuse against Souter.
Prosecutor Andrew Shaw said Souter had mounted a “cynical defence” in the face of overwhelming evidence.
He had denied the offences, saying they were concocted, and that police had invented evidence as part of a conspiracy to smear his name – a defence he maintains.
One victim said in a statement read to the court: “Souter’s insistence that he is innocent and that this is all lies and conspiracy has not allowed full release and closure.”
Souter’s barrister, Andrew Hill, said that, because his client continued to protest his innocence, he could offer little by way of mitigation.
“His position prior to these matters – the charitable works and many other local good works – will all be forgotten when it comes to sentencing,” he added.
“A distinguished career in the navy and journalistically now comes to nought.” The broadcaster was first arrested by police in 1993 but, because of a lack of evidence against him, he continued abusing boys for another six years.
During the trial, Mr Shaw told jurors that Souter used his celebrity status to abuse society’s most vulnerable.
Originally from Scotland, Souter had worked as a producer and presenter in both commercial and BBC radio since the mid-1970s.
He had previously worked as a presenter on Radio Clyde.
Since 1989 he has worked as a freelance broadcaster and had run a media relations consultancy.