Abuse shame of ex-Scout master

An ex-Scout master, youth football coach and referee who sexually preyed on young boys over a 30-year period was last night starting a six-year jail sentence.

An ex-Scout master, youth football coach and referee who sexually preyed on young boys over a 30-year period was last night starting a six-year jail sentence.

Norwich Crown Court heard harrowing accounts of the “despicable” abuse carried out by Roy Mercer, 64, on three boys between the 1950s to1980s, who were aged between four and 15.

Speaking exclusively to the EDP, one of the victims told how he was suffering a nervous breakdown due to the abuse and was prompted to break his 50-year silence when he saw Mercer arrogantly acting as “if he ruled the roost.”

“I thought he is walking tall and my life has been ruined by him,” said the victim, who made the first accusation in November 2005.

Other victims then came forward to reveal the years of sexual assaults.

One contacted police after reading in the EDP about Mercer's arrest.

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Mercer, of Stone Road, Dereham, who is well known across Norfolk for his involvement in scouting, football coaching and refereeing and with Dereham Band, pleaded guilty to 31 sex offences and jailing him, Judge Paul Downes said he had “taken advantage of his position” and breached parents' trust.

“You were a Scout leader in an organisation which has many admirable qualities and you have disgraced those who work in the Scout department.”

Stephen Spence, prosecuting, said Mercer had groomed the boys and sexual offences happened at various places including Scout camps and Mercer's home.

One of the victims had been a member of the Scout group Mercer ran and the other two had been the younger brothers of one of his friends Mercer knew through Scouts.

Det Con Amanda Adcock, of Norfolk Police's Family Protection Unit, said: “Roy Mercer was placed in a position of trust with the families that he had contact with and, by many people, was seen as a highly respected individual.

“He disregarded this by preying on three individuals when they were children - despicable acts which took place over a long period of time.”

“I'd like to thank the victims and their families for coming forward and dealing with the case with a great deal of integrity, dignity and patience. “

Mercer admitted 20 offences of indecent assault on boys aged under 14 years, 10 offences of indecent assault on boys aged under 16 and one other serious sexual offence.

The first victim, now aged in his 50s, was assaulted between 1957 and 1963. The second victim, also in his 50s, was assaulted between 1958 and 1969. The third, in his 40s, was assaulted between 1976 and 1982.

The court was told of the lasting impact the abuse has had on them.

Mercer was put on the sex offenders' register for life and banned from ever working with children again.

Mercer denied six counts of indecent assault on a girl under the age of 14 and two charges of indecent assault on one of the male victims and those charges will lie on the file.

Katharine Moore, mitigating, presented character references and testimonials from people which showed Mercer as “someone who has done much good”.

“He feels a burning sense of shame and very keenly the effect on his family. He has lost his reputation and his standing.”

In a statement one of the victims said: “My family have supported me through this process. It was not easy talking to them about the abuse but it had to be done before I could make a complaint to the police. My family have been remarkable, I could not have hoped for a better reaction from them.”

One of the other victims said: “I would like to thank the police from the bottom of my heart for believing in me, and the other victims and for bringing this case to its rightful conclusion.”

A statement from the Scout Association said: “Mercer has not been a member of The Scout Association since the 1980s. The Scout Association condemns the actions of this former member.

“At that time he betrayed the trust placed in him by parents, by other volunteers and by the Scout movement. There is no place in the movement for anyone who abuses that trust or seeks to harm young people. We are pleased he has been punished for his crimes.”

The Football Association confirmed Mercer had been involved in football refereeing and in youth football and had been suspended since August last year, when he had been arrested.