UK

Stuart Hall Jailed For 15 Months At Preston Crown Court

17/06/2013 13:09 BST | Updated 17/08/2013 10:12 BST

Updated 17:35, 17 June 2013 - Judge's comments

Veteran BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall has been jailed for 15 months after he admitted 14 counts of indecent assault against girls as young as nine.

Hall, 83, had initially issued an impassioned public denial of any wrongdoing before he finally admitted his guilt at Preston Crown Court in April.

The disgraced former It's A Knockout presenter was labelled an "opportunistic predator" of his victims, whom he targeted between 1967 and 1987.

stuart hall

The 83-year-old has pleaded guilty to 14 charges of indecent assault against 13 girls

Sentencing him, the Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC, said Hall was known to the public for his "genial personality" but there was "a darker side" to him.

He said "those who admired you for these qualities and the general public now know that there is a darker side to you, one hidden from the public view until now - and a side which you were able to conceal taking advantage of your status as a well-liked celebrity.

"Several of these cases reveal an abuse of power by you because your status gave you an influence and standing which you abused."

Hall showed no emotion as he was led from the dock to begin his sentence.

Judge Russell said Hall would have received 20 months after a trial but he reduced the sentence to reflect his guilty pleas.

He said he had read character references from "people well known to the court" which referred to the "positively good aspects of your character".

"I have read all those references with care and it is very sad to see someone who is so well-regarded in the dock of this courtroom," he said.

Judge Russell concluded: "This is by no means the worst example of sexual abuse of children to come before the court but, notwithstanding the mitigation, I have come to the conclusion that taken together these offences do call for a sentence of imprisonment which must be served immediately.

"The repeated sexual abuse of young children, too young to consent and in no position to resist your advances, even if the individual acts are relatively mild, is a serious crime and it must be made clear to anyone tempted to take advantage of young children and other vulnerable victims that they face condemnation and punishment."

He was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years and as "a wealthy man", said the judge, was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £11,522.

Hall had initially issued an impassioned public denial of any wrongdoing before he finally admitted his guilt at Preston Crown Court in April.

Hall, of Prestbury Road, Wilmslow, Cheshire, was arrested and charged on December 5 last year with indecently assaulting three of his victims.

The publicity led to more women coming forward, including a woman who said she was raped by Hall in the 1970s when she was 22.

Following his guilty pleas on 14 counts of indecent assault against 13 victims, the rape charge - which Hall denied - was asked to be left on file after it was given consideration at "the most senior level" of the Crown Prosecution Service and the alleged victim was also consulted and agreed.

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, outlined the details of the offences committed by the former It's A Knockout presenter.

A "significant" number of the complainants were in attendance at Preston Crown Court on Monday, said the prosecutor, as Hall sat in the dock.

Wright said Hall denied any impropriety after he was arrested at his home in December.

stuart hall

Broadcaster Stuart Hall arrives at Preston Crown Court for sentencing in Preston, England

Hall said the motivation for the complaints was "otherwise instant notoriety if it ever get into the press domain".

He described one of the complainants as "a complete and utter liar", another as "unstable" and suggested collusion was taking place.

He denied any sexual interest in children and described his sexuality as "just normal".

An officer asked: "You're saying they're all lying?"

Hall replied: "Well, yes. Yes. Dreams and the light imaginings of men."

"Is that your considered view on the matter?" continued the officer.

"It is my truthful considered view of everything," said Hall.

"There is a vendetta going on against people in the public eye, and people can come out of the woodwork and say what they want."

Hall was bailed and further inquiries followed, said Mr Wright.

The prosecutor said: "The publicity surrounding his arrest led to other complainants having the courage to come forward to disclose what had occurred to them and also in support for those who had already come forward and reported allegations.

"The motives expressed by these complainants was to demonstrate that the allegations that had been made were neither isolated nor unfounded."

Hall was re-arrested in January and again denied each of the alleged assaults and characterised them as lies.

He told police: "I think a lot of people have just made things up just to make sensationalism. I think it's completely misinterpreted... they are all telling untruths."