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An award-winning firefighter has been jailed for giving bare bottomed spankings to boys when he was a cub leader

An award-winning firefighter has been jailed for giving bare bottomed spankings to boys when he was a cub leader
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Christopher Richards, from Cullompton, invented petty excuses to dole out what he called punishments to the boys who were aged as young as seven.
He then made them take down their trousers and pants and either smacked or rubbed their bottoms.
He spanked one boy so hard that it hurt him to sit down afterwards and on one occasion Richards put water on his hand so it would sting more.
He beat the children for supposed offences as minor as painting a drawing outside the lines, getting a splinter in a finger and mis-connecting a battery.
He spanked one young boy because he overheard a friend asking whether Richards was a paedophile. The boy did not even know what the word meant.
He denied there was any sexual motive but a judge at Exeter Crown Court imposed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order which will ban him from any future contact with children after he finishes his jail sentence.
Richards used his position as a well-respected member of the local community in Cullompton as cover for some of his crimes.
He is part of the residents’ association and chairs several local groups and charities. He was on the Parent, Teachers and Friends Association of a local primary school and a member of the Culm Local Action Group.
He is a former retained firefighter in Cullompton and won the Community Hero category in the 2012 St John’s Ambulance awards for saving the life of a man who collapsed at a football match.
He received the award from ex-footballer Fabrice Muamba, who survived a similar incident during an FA Cup game.
Richards started his abuse while a scout and cub leader in Northamptonshire in the 1980s and carried on after moving to Devon.
This time he spanked boys often after playing football or cricket.
The abuse caused serious psychological damage to the victims, many of who lost all faith in figures of authority and struggled in school as a result. One said he does not want to have children of his own because he would fear for their safety.
One of them sobbed as he read out a personal statement which said: “When I saw you, I used to crumble. I am here today to see you crumble. You are a bad man.
“You act in public as someone who does good but in reality, you are twisted. You stole my childhood and have ruined my life.”
Richards, aged 53, of St Andrews Estate, Cullompton, admitted 12 counts of child cruelty and was jailed for five years and three months by Judge Timothy Rose.
The judge told him: ”You came up with excuses and pretexts of your own devising to give you an opportunity to deal with the victims in the way that you did.
“I don’t accept that you seriously thought you were imposing reasonable punishments for real offences. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“You were inventing bogus reasons to be alone with the child and do what you did. They were clearly concocted. You deliberately engineered the situation to make sure they did not report it to their families.
“You had no right, no lawful purpose or any possible excuse for your behaviour. Any justification was wholly deluded.
“You had a very positive involvement in the community in Devon with organisations and charitable causes but it was precisely that status and level of trust that put you in a position to commit these offences.
“You betrayed the trust put in you as a scout leader and the trust of the parents of the boys. You pretended to punish but were in fact doing so for your own gratification.”
Tom Bradnock, prosecuting, said the offences started when Richards was a scour leader in Northamptonshire between 1989 and 2002 and continued after he moved to Devon in 2005 to start his own fire and safety business.
He punished two young scouts in a tent when they were aged seven to 11, making them take down their pants and smacking them gently on their bare bottoms.
He told them he was doing so instead of reporting their supposed offences to their fathers.
In Devon he administered more severe hand spankings to three boys aged about eight to 16.
After moving to Devon, Richards started his own successful fire and safety business – Total Safety Training and Consultancy