Scout master assaulted boy to fuel sexual lust

Matthew Bell
Matthew Bell

A scout master known as “Belly” sexually assaulted a young boy to fuel his sexual lust, while pretending to tell him off for playing with sticks.

Former assistant district commissioner Matthew Bell, 28, ordered the boy to stand in front of him while he touched him in a scout kitchen. He then sent him on his way. Bell was later found with scout-related pornography including stories and images.

Bell had caught two boys misbehaving and ordered them both into a scout hut. While he sexually assaulted one boy he ordered the other boy to wait outside in the hall while he warned him of the dangers of throwing sticks. The boy, who gave Bell the nickname “Belly” because of his size, gave up being a scout within weeks of the incident because he could not face him. Bell, who worked as a Full Sutton Prison officer, had been in the scouting movement since he was a youth. According to a probation report he has shown no remorse for his victim and only cared about what happened to himself.

The police found search terms found on his computer as he looked for scout-related porn. Bell became an assistant district commissioner in 2013 and had been a leader since 2009.

Bell, of Foresters Walk, Stamford Bridge, appeared for sentence at Hull Crown Court last Monday after pleading guilty to one charge of sexual assault on a child under the age of 16. He also pleaded guilty to two charges of making indecent images of children and two charges of possession of indecent images.

Crown barrister John Thackray said the boy had disclosed the indecent assault to his mother after they heard an NSPCC advert on a car radio.

“He heard an advert play on the radio reminding children what was private,” said Mr Thackray. “Quite matter-of-factly he told her the man who he nicknames as Belly had touched him in the kitchen of the scout hut. He said he had been misbehaving, but not seriously with another boy. He was taken inside the hall and the boys seen separately. He was told to calm down. As he was talking to him Bell assaulted him. He said it was for the whole length of talking.”

Mr Thackray said when police raided his home they found he had 38 indecent images - 32 of which were not copies - on two computers and a hard drive, two in Category A the worst kind. Bell insisted he had no sexual interest in boys and told police they would not find images on his computer. He said if they were there it would be because he had a computer virus and he may have searched gay websites.

In a victim impact statement, the boy’s mother disclosed how her son became distressed and tearful after he told her about it. She described being devastated by that.

She said she thought her son was in the care of a responsible person and this was a breach of trust.

Defence barrister Edward Moss said although he accepted the probation officer’s concern at his lack of remorse there was remorse for the affect the case has had on those around him.

“It was in a period of his life when he was very troubled,” said Mr Moss. He acknowledges the seriousness of the offending. The court has to be concerned about the future of this man and his future of re-offending. Clearly one wants to look at the fact and hope this can be stopped. He acknowledges the custody threshold was passed. This was an offence that occurred with no planning.

“It was an opportunistic offence and one he was ashamed of. He is not sure why in this period of this life he has offended.

“He was bullied as a child. He is someone who will suffer greatly in prison.”

Sentencing, judge Simon Jack said he was troubled that an author of a pre-sentence report had concluded Bells’ expressed remorse was concern that he was having to pay the penalty and not true remorse.

He said he had read letters which spoke well about him and these offences had not been repeated since they were discovered - even though he had continued to work in the scouting movement and would have had temptation to repeat it.

“The ultimate question is whether I can suspend the sentence I have to pass,” said Judge Jack “It is not in dispute that it must be a custodial sentence. I have come to the conclusion I can pass a prison sentence of two years, but it is just within the bracket of offences where it can be suspended.”

He gave Bell a two-year suspended prison sentence, with a requirement to attend the Northumbria Sex Offenders’ Treatment Programme.

Judge Jack warned Bell: “This is not the end of it. If you commit further offences the likelihood is you will go straight to prison for a substantial period of time.” Bell was ordered to pay £1,000 court costs. He must sign on the National Sex Offender Register for 10 years.