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Birchington: Derek Eaglestone found guilty of child-sex offences

A Birchington man – honoured by the Queen for services to St John Ambulance and sport – has been convicted of sex crimes going back more than 50 years.

Disgraced Derek Eaglestone, of Court Mount had been awarded an MBE in the 1990s after serving as a superintendent for the charity.

But now a jury has decided that during his time with St John he sexually abused one of the organisation’s cadets.

Stock picture: Getty Images
Stock picture: Getty Images

The 80-year-old was remanded on bail and will be sentenced next month.

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register.

The victim told Canterbury Crown Court that a gift of a St John Ambulance badge a few years ago had triggered memories of the attacks.

He said the incidents happened in the 1960s and 70s after he joined the charity as a cadet at Hither Green in south London and Eaglestone singled him out.

The man said the incidents had begun “as a tickling game” in the back of a St John’s ambulance but became increasingly more sinister.

The jury convicted Eaglestone of four charges of indecent assault but returned not guilty verdicts on three other sex offences.

The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court
The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court

A spokesperson for St John Ambulance said: “St John Ambulance was appalled to hear of the actions and abuse of trust of Derek Eaglestone, and our thoughts go to those affected.

“Mr Eaglestone is no longer part of the organisation, having left in 2009.

“The organisation takes the safety and welfare of those in its care extremely seriously, and the policies in place to ensure the protection of our young people have improved dramatically since this took place over 30 years ago.”

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Eaglestone showed a complete disregard for his young victim and also for the position of trust he was in at the time.

“The repeated abuse that he carried out will have made a lasting impact on his victim, and we hope he has received the right help and support to rebuild his life.

“But this case shows once again that people who suffered sexual abuse in the past can come forward, be listened to and receive justice, no matter how long ago the offences took place.”

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