Scout leader in court on child sex assault charges

John Waites
John Waites

A Scout leader from Leyland sexually assaulted youngsters when he crept into their tents on camps, a court has been told.

John Waites, 56, of Heys Hunt Avenue, Leyland, denies touching the girls under their pyjamas when they attended an indoor camp in a Scout hall in Lancashire and an outdoor camp in Waddecar, near Beacon Fell.

But Jeremy Grant-Smith, prosecuting, told the jury at Preston Crown Court the girls were so terrified of Waites, they wore tights under their pyjamas and asked a teenage Cub leader to sleep outside their tent at the next sleepover they attended.

It was only when the teenager quizzed the youngsters that the allegations against Waites, a group Scout leader and a member of the organisation for 38 years, emerged.

The court heard three of the girls had been sharing a tent at Waddecar when the first incidents took place.

One of the girls had been frightened by a spider in the tent and had started crying.

A young Cub leader had calmed them down but when she returned from the bathroom she found Waites crouching at the entrance to the tent.

Mr Grant-Smith said Waites told the young volunteer he was calming the girls down, but the girl told police he seemed “angry and tense”.

The girls later told separate accounts of Waites creeping into their tent and putting his hands inside their pyjamas as they lay in their sleeping bags.

Mr Grant-Smith said one of the girls told police: “He made deep breathing noises while he did it. It was disgusting.”

In a separate incident, another youngster told police Waites attacked her while she pretended to be asleep in a tent at a sleepover in a scout hall.

The Cub said she did not tell her parents as she was afraid they would shout at her, but on the next sleepover wore tights underneath her pyjamas to make it difficult for Waites to molest her again.

The allegations came to light when the girls were attending a Halloween sleepover at a Scout hall.

A teenage leader noticed they seemed scared of Waites and were wearing extra layers of clothing, the court heard.

The girls seemed embarrassed when she asked them what they were worried about and she agreed to let them sleep together on one tent, promising to sleep outside.

But she reported the matter to another leader and the police were informed.

Waites was arrested but vehemently denied any physical contact between himself and the young girls.

He recalled the girls making a lot of noise at Waddecar and told police he went to quiten them down.

He said he unzipped the tent flap and “spoke to them sharply” but denied going into the sleeping area of the tent.

He also denied going into a tent with the youngster in the Scout hall in Preston.

Waites denies six counts of sexually assaulting the girls, who were all younger than 10 when the alleged attacks took place.

(Proceeding)