The Court of Appeal has overturned a suspended sentence given to a Hull scout leader, sentencing him instead to three years in prison.
Matthew Bell, who has been a scout leader since 2009, was given a two-year suspended sentence following a trial at Hull Crown Court last November.
Bell, 28, had pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting an eight-year-old boy in the scout hut. Police also found indecent images of children when they searched Bell’s home.
At the Court of Appeal hearing last week, the original sentence was criticised for being too lenient and, commenting on how a custodial sentence was more appropriate, Lady Justice Hallet said: "The sentencing judge made a significant reduction to his term without justification. This offence was part of an overall pattern of offending."
Claims Against the Scout Association
In abusing a young cub scout who was supposed to be in his care, Matthew Bell displayed an abhorrent abuse of the trust placed in him.
The Court of Appeal, having overturned the original sentence, has imposed a custodial sentence upon Bell that better reflects the severity of his crimes. He’ll go to prison and will no longer subject vulnerable young children to harm.
Matthew Bell was a scout leader and, under the principle of vicarious liability, it’s possible for the Scout Association to be held liable for his actions – i.e. Bell and the Scout Association had a relationship that was akin to employment, and Bell had used his position as scout leader to commit a crime.
In 2014, the Scout Association issued an apology to former scouts who had been abused.
Helen Gierc is a serious injuries solicitor specialising in sexual abuse claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
Slater and Gordon have an expert team of abuse lawyers who are currently representing over 800 survivors of abuse, including those who have been abused by scout leaders.
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