December 13 2013 Latest news:
Peter Walsh, Crime correspondent
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
A former BBC Radio Norfolk presenter accused of sexually assaulting a number of boys spanning almost two decades, denied a “bed time hug” routine was a “tried and tested” method of his abuse, a court has heard.
Michael Souter, 60, of Low Bungay Road, Loddon, is on trial after denying 19 counts of historic child sex abuse relating to seven different boys aged between 11 and 16 which are said to have happened between 1979 and 1999.
He also denies nine counts of making and possessing indecent images of children.
The court has heard that a number of the alleged victims had, when staying overnight at Souter’s house, been into his bedroom for a night-time hug which proceeded the abuse against some of the victims.
Andrew Shaw, prosecuting, yesterday asked Souter if he had used this “tried and tested method” against one of the complainants.
Souter said: “Absolutely not.”
Mr Shaw asked Souter if he could help him with why it was he was calling children, who were not his, into his room for a night time hug.
Souter said he was a “tactile guy” who was “not averse” to giving a loving hug like in any father/son relationship.
He said: “These are young men that I’m very happy with, they were happy with me. I was providing guidance and support to them in an entirely proper way.”
He added: “These were perfectly normal hugs of support and that was it.”
Mr Shaw asked why it was a man, who was not their father, did this while dressed in his shorts.
Souter said: “That’s because I wear shorts all the time, there’s nothing sexual about it.”
He told the court that “nothing untoward was happening” and claimed Mr Shaw was “trying to draw too much from too little”.
Mr Shaw said he was asking Souter about behaviour which some might regard as “ unusual”.
Souter said he was talking about activity which took place 20 or 30 years ago and the difference there is now.
He said: “The tragic thing about all of this is people can’t mentor young people anymore because they are petrified they will be put through the sort of thing I’m being put through.”
He added: “All of the publicity that results from this sort of case makes them doubt whether they can possibly help because they fear what will happen.”
The trial continues.