Stuart Hall jailed for 15 months for indecent assaults on young girls

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

Veteran BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall arrives at Preston Crown Court
Veteran BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall arrives at Preston Crown Court

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

Hall, 83, from Wilmslow, 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, who he targeted between 1967 and 1987.

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.

The judge criticised Hall for his initial public denial of wrongdoing, saying: "Instead of maintaining a dignified silence or stating that you would make no comment, you chose to make a public statement to the effect that the allegations were false, describing them as 'spurious and pernicious' as was widely reported."

Although your guilty pleas have meant that your victims have not had to give evidence and relive their experiences in a court hearing, and they now know this, your earlier observations about their complaints, which you now accept were neither spurious nor pernicious, will have distressed them all, and it is clear from the victim statements that I have seen that your brazen attitude when first charged and the public protests of your innocence have added to the distress of some if not all of your victims."

When initially arrested last December, Hall told police his victims were all lying as part of a "vendetta going on against people in the public eye".

But the publicity led to more women coming forward.At points during the hearing Hall, wearing a dark suit, shirt and striped tie, appeared wounded by what he was hearing in evidence. For long periods of time he was leaning back with his eyes closed.

On hearing something which appeared to shock him he would lean forward and shake his head. Many of Hall's victims were sitting behind him in the public gallery.

Hall wore headphones around his neck but only put them on his head when his defence barrister Crispin Aylett QC outlined the mitigation on his behalf

Mr Aylett criticised some media reports about the case since Hall pleaded guilty and asked the judge to carry out the sentencing with a degree of proportion. He said: "My task this morning is to apologise for what the defendant has done and to ask for the mercy of the court.

"It is not my intention to pick a fight with all of those who have put pen to paper on the subject of the life and times of Stuart Hall."

Mr Aylett said his client had been arrested "as a consequence" of the investigations into Jimmy Savile, "who used young girls on a scale that is simply staggering".

He referred to the 1,300 complainants in that case and said: "Instead, in the dock today is a frightened and bewildered 83-year-old man answering for the touching - no more, no less - of all of 13, not 1,300, victims over a quarter of a century ago."

He said 27 years had passed since the last offence and that Hall had led an "unblemished life" over those years, doing charity work and with the support of his loving family.The barrister said the defendant had pleaded guilty and that there was "very little evidence" of sexual arousal on the part of the defendant.

The BBC said in a statement issued after sentencing: "The BBC is appalled that some of Stuart Hall's crimes took place in connection with his work at the BBC and offer an unreserved apology to the people he abused."

"Dame Linda Dobbs is leading a detailed investigation into Hall's conduct at the BBC and her conclusions will be published as part of the Dame Janet Smith Review later this year."

Dame Janet is carrying out a review of Jimmy Savile's actions while employed by the BBC.

Sentencing Hall, Judge Russell said: "Many years have elapsed since these crimes were committed but that is no mitigation for the crimes themselves.

"The crimes should of course never have been committed because nearly every victim was a child at the time and unwanted sexual advances even for an adult are distressing for the victim but when they are directed towards a child who is unable to repel the attentions of an adult, an important barrier is crossed.

"As is clear from the victim personal statements, which I have read with care, many of your victims have lived with the shame and embarrassment resulting from your assaults, not sure how to cope with the effect of what were for these girls extremely unpleasant and distressing events - suffering what amounts in some cases to significant psychological trauma.

"I pay tribute to the victims who have come forward - it is by no means an easy thing to do."

Hall showed no emotion as he was led from the dock to begin his sentence. He was given sentences ranging from three months to 15 months, all to run concurrently.

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."

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