Thursday, 7 Dec 2023

Face of ex-BBC worker with ‘persisting sexual interest in children’

A former BBC worker who a judge said has a “persisting sexual interest in children” has been jailed for 21 years after leaving his victim “still haunted” by their ordeal at his hands.

A court heard paedophile Chris Bell, who worked at the BBC for eight years in the 1980s, targeted a boy to satisfy his perverted urges.

The victim went on to become seriously depressed and the abuse had “massively” affected his life, Hull Crown Court heard.

Bell, 61, of Beech Avenue, Thorngumbald, near Hull, denied a series of sexual offences, including rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, making indecent images of a child and distributing them.

HullLive reports he was convicted of on all counts by a jury of 12 after a trial and has been put behind bars for more than two decades.

Bell’s victim said in a statement read in court that the abuse had “affected him massively”.

He said he had felt “guilt, hurt and regret” at what happened to him and he became “severely depressed” at what he “endured” at the hands of Bell.

The abuse “still haunts me”, he said, adding that Bell had taken his childhood innocence.

The statement added: “This whole thing has been very hard on me and I am still struggling, the road to recovery will be very long and very hard.”

Simon Reevell, prosecuting, told the earlier trial that Bell previously worked at a number of local radio stations, including Stray FM, broadcasting to Yorkshire, and what was then Home FM, based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. He later “failed” running a pub and because a bus driver.

Bell previously lived in Filey, East Yorkshire, but had worked in Hull. He offered cigarettes to a young boy, despite the lad’s age.

The court heard Bell undressed him and kissed him before trying to engage in sexual behaviour. Bell told the boy that it was a game, but the boy said he “felt sick”.

Mr Reevell said: “He had no real understanding of what was being done to him and no understanding of what it all meant. For some years, he did not feel able to report it.”

Bell had claimed that the allegations were false and denied that anything inappropriate had happened.

“He denied any sexual interest in children,” said Mr Reevell. An image of two boys was found on his phone. It had been sent to a Snapchat account set up in a false name.

He admitted setting up the account and said that he might have received the image from a friend. He later denied responsibility for it.

Charlotte Baines, mitigating, said that Bell had no previous convictions.

Ms Baines said: “Although the offences are clearly very serious, there is not present here a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm.”

Judge Kate Rayfield said the boy had suffered “feelings of hurt and regret” but he had nothing to feel guilty about.

She said “Speaking out was a courageous act on his part” and told Bell: “You have a persisting sexual interest in children.”

Bell will be on additional licence of one year after his eventual release from prison. He will have to register as a sex offender for life. A sexual harm prevention order will be made at a later hearing shortly.

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