A Lakenheath man has been jailed for eight years for indecently assaulting six boys in Saffron Walden in the 1990s.
Brian Gibbs, 47, of Wingfield Road, had denied a total of 11 offences of gross indecency, indecency with a child and indecent assault relating to the six youngsters, but was convicted after a trial in July.
Judge Patricia Lynch QC was told Gibbs, who has learning difficulties, did not accept the jury’s verdicts.
As she passed sentence at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday, the judge said: “Only a prison sentence is appropriate. It was a course of conduct where there was clear grooming of adolescent boys and the taking advantage of them to perpetrate sexual assaults upon them.”
She said Gibbs had not committed any offences since 1996 and was not considered dangerous.
She jailed him for eight of the maximum 10 years available, ordered him to sign the sex offenders’ register indefinitely and granted a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years, which monitors his internet use and unsupervised access to children.
The judge said Gibbs had a multitude of complex medical and neurological disorders, including chronic epilepsy.
Gibbs suffered an epileptic seizure in the dock during his sentencing and had to receive medical attention before it resumed.
During the trial, the jury heard Gibbs befriended the boys, aged from 11, when he was in his 20s and treated them to cigarettes, alcohol and food. He drove them around, took them on trips and invited them to his house while his parents were out.
Prosecutor Paul Jarvis said Gibbs’ interest in his ‘teenage entourage’ was sexual and went beyond horseplay on occasions.
In mitigation, Diana Pigot said: “It’s friendship he was looking for rather than grooming.”
Gibbs did not give evidence but, in a police statement in 2013, he admitted he was gay but said he only engaged in sexual activity with adults.
Gibbs had also denied seven offences of making indecent images of children in September 2013, discovered on his computer at his Lakenheath home.
At his sentencing hearing, the prosecution said it would not be proceeding on those charges and the judge ordered them to be left on the file.