Professional golfer jailed for child sexual offences - Leighton Buzzard

28/04/2017

A professional golfer appeared at Luton Crown Court today, Friday, 28 April 2017, and was given an extended sentence of 19 and a half years for sexually assaulting three young girls in Leighton Buzzard.

Gavin Samuels, aged 26, of Melfort Drive, Linslade, near Leighton Buzzard, was sentenced today after being found guilty of 10 sexual offences, including four of rape.

Samuels started abusing one of his victims when she was just 12-years-old by sexually assaulting her and raping her on several occasions. Years later, he befriended two other young girls, grooming them with countless messages over apps, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat, before engaging in sexual activity with them, despite knowing they were under the age of consent.

The Judge passed a 14 and a half year custodial sentence with a 5-year extension to the period Samuels will be on licence. It means he cannot apply for parole until he has served just over nine years. When he is released he will be on licence until the end of the 19 and a half year sentence. Other conditions to the sentence mean that Samuels will not be able to work with children and will not be able to enter any golf club in Britain if there is the potential for teenage girls to be playing. He must also register as a sex offender for life.

In a victim personal statement read out at court, one of the victims explained how she was initially scared to speak out. She said: "I was afraid to tell others because of what they might think of me. I didn't know how to tell anyone for a long while, so I kept it to myself.

"Following this experience, I feel reassured that he will no longer abuse any more girls and I feel proud of myself, and the others involved, for having the courage to stand up to sexual abuse."

Bill Khindey, Senior Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved sexual activity between a man, now aged 26, and three girls, aged 12-17, in Leighton Buzzard between February 2006 and September 2015.

"Gavin Samuels abused his position of trust as a professional golfer and organiser of the juniors at his golf club and took advantage of his status to systematically prey on two of the young girls and abused them for his own sexual gratification. He began by being friendly and helpful, becoming more insistent and finally becoming forceful. He repeatedly told one of the girls, who was a close family friend as well as a junior golfer, that she was not to tell anyone what had happened as it would ruin his career and would be embarrassing for their families.  He continually contacted the other female junior golfer via text, Facebook, WhatsApp and SnapChat and invited her to his house to watch films. He also forcibly sexually assaulted and raped another close family friend at her house and in an alleyway. It is only due to the courage of the victims that the disgraceful behaviour of this man has been exposed. I would like to pay tribute to them all for their strength and tenacity in coming forward and providing evidence for the prosecution.

"Samuels admitted knowing the girls, but denied any sexual wrongdoing. However, on 19 August 2016, after the first trial at Luton Crown Court, he was found guilty of attempted sexual activity with a child aged 14, sexual assault, and two counts of sexual activity with a child aged 14. On 28 February 2017, after a retrial at the same court, he was found guilty of sexual assault of a child under 13, assault by penetration, and four counts of rape.

"We worked closely with Bedfordshire Police from early in the investigation to help build the strongest possible prosecution case. Their investigators, and Crown Prosecution Service lawyers and caseworkers have worked tirelessly to bring this prosecution to court.

"The emotional impact, on the victims and their families, of the actions of this man is impossible to quantify. I hope that the convictions and today's sentence give some small comfort to them. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Detective Constable Ben Stone, investigating officer, said: "I'm pleased that this dangerous sexual predator will be locked behind bars for a considerable amount of time.

"Although the sentence cannot compensate for the anguish that his victims have suffered at his hands, I hope that it can bring them some level of closure, and I'd like to thank them for their incredible bravery in coming forward to reveal this abuse. I hope that it gives others the confidence in knowing that they do not have to suffer in silence - we will support them, and justice will be done."