Former RAF Squadron Leader jailed for sex assault - Shillington

28/05/2013

A former RAF Squadron Leader was jailed for 5 and a half years today, Tuesday, 28 May 2013, for sexually assaulting two teenage boys he took home from a village pub.

Thomas McGrath sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy, who was sleeping at his home in Shillington on New Year's Day 2007.

Five and a half years later, on 05 June 2012, he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy, who was also spending the night at his home after celebrating the Queen's Jubilee in the pub.

Prosecutor Maryam Syed told Luton Crown Court that the offences happened at McGrath's home in Hanscombe End Road, Shillington, Beds, where he lived on his own.

She said the first victim, who is now aged 21, had been befriended by Mr McGrath, who was a Squardron Leader in the RAF.

After seeing in the New Year at the Musgrave Arms in the village, the 15-year-old, who had been drinking , went back with Mr McGrath and another man to his home. McGrath gave the boy whisky saying it would help with a cough.

There, she said, Mr McGrath fell asleep on the sofa, the other man went to the spare room and the boy ended up sleeping on top of the duvet in the defendant's bedroom.

At 4am the boy woke to find Mr McGrath sexually assaulting him. She said the victim was left "shocked and embarrassed."

In the weeks after the sex assault McGrath tried to keep the boy sweet and treated him to trips to London and bought him a £70 pair of leather trousers.

The boy suppressed what had happened until the early hours of Christmas Day 2011 when he confided in an ex-girlfriend.

He only reported what happened after he learned of a similar sex assault by McGrath on a 16-year-old boy. He felt shame that he had not reported the assault at the time as that may have prevented the second assault.

The second teenager had also gone to the Musgrave Arms on Monday 4 June. He stayed the night in Mr McGrath's spare room. At 3.30 in the morning he was woken by McGrath who was sexually asaulting him.

The teenager is said to have left the home in tears and called his brother. His father came to collect him. Mr McGrath sent him a text that read: "Are you all right mate?"

He reported the assault to the police. When the other victim became aware of the 16-year-olds complaint he reported what happened in 2007.

Ms Syed went on: "Knowing a complaint had been made Mr McGrath went to the police himself. He was interviewed and he denied any sexual activity. He accepted boys were in his property, but said nothing had happened."

McGrath, 40, pleaded not guilty to causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent , and sexual assault. He was convicted by the jury on both counts.

Defence barrister Amjad Malik QC said McGrath had been "an upstanding individual" in the Shillington community. As well as his contribution to the armed services, he was involved in bell ringing at the church, and with the Young Farmers.

He said McGrath, who still denies the offences, had been unable to resist temptation on two occasions five and a half years apart. "He has lost his reputation and is now an outcast and a pariah. He has lost everything. It has been a high fall and it is his fault."

Jailing him Judge Michael Kay QC said: "You were well known in the Musgrave Arms and socialised with people of all ages. Much of that was a front for you being able to ingratiate yourself and become friendly with young men. You became friendly with young men through your social activities at the Young Farmers, the church, and through drinking in the pub.

"There are a number of aggravating factors in the case. There was a pattern, if not grooming, then one of making yourself popular with young people. There was an opportunistic use of alcohol and a breach of trust."

McGrath must sign the Sex Offenders' Register indefinitely and abide by a Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning him from having young men in his home, going to the pub, and contacting the two victims.

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