West Sussex man jailed for historic indecent assault after paying victim to stay quiet

John Speer. Picture supplied by Sussex Police
John Speer. Picture supplied by Sussex Police

A Bognor Regis man has been convicted of a historic indecent assault on a boy more than 30 years ago after his victim reported concerns that he was working with children as recently as 2016, Sussex Police confirmed in a statement today (December 17).

Police said John Speer, 58, who was also sentenced for possessing indecent images of children, will serve six years after it was established he abused a nine-year-old boy when he was a teenager.

Speer paid his victim for his silence after assaulting him 'numerous times', which has since led the victim to have a gambling addiction, according to police.

A police spokesman said: "Sussex Police were approached in April 2016 by a man who wished to disclose that he was indecently assaulted when he was a young boy when he lived in Bognor Regis.

"The victim had approached the police then as he had concerns that the defendant, John Speer, had access to children."

Police said the victim revealed his gambling addiction in an impact statement when Speer was being sentenced.

The spokesman added: "This included the fact that due to being given money as a young boy from the defendant, this contributed to a gambling addiction later in life.

"The victim had told the court that he was not in court for himself and was only there to protect other people from the defendant. The offences had a major impact on the victim’s family, but now the case has been dealt with and the offender held accountable, the family are back in contact with one another."

Detective sergeant David Midgley said the victim was 'concerned about approaching the police' and 'feared he would not be believed'.

He added: "This case shows that we will investigate such allegations tirelessly, offenders will get prosecuted and the conviction shows that he was believed."

The spokesman added: "The victim was around nine-years-old when they first met. Over the course of several years, the defendant was said to have indecently assaulted the victim numerous times and paying him money for his silence.

"The suspect was traced and interviewed in October 2016 and completely denied the allegations. The officers pursued a number of lines of enquiry to support the victim’s account including speaking with family members and obtaining information from other agencies."

Police said the case was presented to the Crown Prosecution Service which authorised a prosecution, resulting in January 2018 with Speer being charged with six counts against the victim.

"He entered a not guilty plea at a court hearing in March 2018 and a three day case began on 30 July at Portsmouth Crown Court," the spokesman continued.

"The victim had his evidence played to the court via his original video interview with the police. Two other witnesses also gave evidence in the case. The jury retired for their deliberations on Wednesday August 1 and came back with unanimous guilty verdicts on five counts and found him not guilty on one count via a majority verdict."

Speer appeared at Portsmouth Crown Court for sentencing on August 31, 2018 and the victim's impact statement was read to the court.

The defendant had earlier pleaded not guilty to four other charges which consisted of three allegations of making indecent photographs of a child and one charge of possessing prohibited images, police confirmed.

However, police said Speer appeared back in court on October 22 and pleaded guilty to these matters.

The spokesman said: "The court heard that when he was arrested for the original matter, officers had seized his computer and mobile phone and the images were found on these devices. The images were not connected to the indecent assault case."

DS Midgley said the sentence shows that 'justice will catch up on offenders', despite the passage of time, and offenders will be 'dealt with robustly'.

"Speer has now signed on to the Sex Offenders Register and once he is released from prison, he will be closely supervised under the terms of his Sexual Harm Prevention Order," he continued.

"The court has ordered that the devices seized are to be destroyed.”

Police said the case is being reported now as there was a trial listed for November 19 for the latter four charges, but in light of his guilty pleas this can now be published.