Portsmouth youth group leader accused of abusing two young boys

TRIAL Terence Cawte outside Portsmouth Crown Court
TRIAL Terence Cawte outside Portsmouth Crown Court
Hampshire police and crime commissioner Michael Lane. Picture: Malcolm Wells

Police commissioner dishes out £712,000 to groups after ‘protecting’ budget amid political row

Have your say

A BOYS’ Brigade leader and owner of a Christian book shop repeatedly abused youngsters he claimed to be helping, a court has heard.

Married father-of-three Terence Cawte is accused of abusing two youngsters at his home in Waterlooville and at his former bookshop, The Portsmouth Christian Book Centre, in New Road, North End.

The 74-year-old denies the allegations.

Prosecutor Robert Bryan said Cawte had met both the children through his volunteer work as a captain for the Havant and Leigh Park Boys’ Brigade, between the 1970s and 1990s.

‘In a nutshell the prosecution’s case is that this defendant abused the trust put in him by two young boys and their respective parents,’ he said.

‘We will hear in particular about these two, now men, that each was vulnerable in their own way.

‘The defence case is much more simple, it is that none of this happened, and that these men have made false claims.’

The jury at Portsmouth Crown Court heard that one man, now in his 40s, says he was aged 13 to 15 when Cawte abused him in the 1970s.

Another who is now in his 30s, says he was abused from the age of five up to 16 in the 1980s and 1990s, after going to Cawte for help with his school work.

Mr Bryan said: ‘You will need to put aside any feelings you might have of disgust or that any allegation is inappropriate in the same way that you will need to put aside any sympathy.’

Cawte, formerly of Forest Close, Waterlooville, attended Leigh Park Methodist Church and was well known for his charity work, the jury heard.

Mr Bryan said there was a 10-year gap between the two sets of allegations and that the alleged victims did not know each other.

‘The crown will be inviting you to consider the unlikelihood of two men, who don’t know one another, fabricating an allegation that has such a similarity,’ he said.

Cawte allegedly told one of the boys: ‘You mustn’t tell anybody about this because we could get into big trouble.’

For years both alleged victims kept what happened secret, the court heard, because they thought Cawte was so well-respected no-one would believe them.

Cawte, of Maytree Gardens, Waterlooville, denies five multiple incident counts of indecent assault on a male, one of indecency with a child and two other sexual offences.


Police ‘did not cover themselves in glory’

THE case against Terence Cawte nearly fell apart because of the way the police handled it.

In 2001 one of the alleged victims made a statement to officers about being abused.

Prosecutor Robert Bryan told the jury an unknown police officer had investigated the case but had not been able to contact Cawte, despite the fact he still lived in Waterlooville.

The man was passed from pillar to post for two years before his statement was lost which led to him withdrawing his support.

Mr Bryan said: ‘It might fairly be said that in 2001 Hampshire Constabulary did not cover themselves in glory.

‘He heard nothing from the police so he didn’t pursue it any further.

‘Eighteen months after he had first spoken to the police officers he said “enough is enough” and he withdrew his support.’

Nothing further happened until 2010 when a second man told the police Cawte had abused him.

After that police contacted the first man again and he agreed to help with the new investigation.