A SEX abuse victim has seen the Boys’ Brigade captain who preyed on him as a child brought to justice after more than 50 years.
Malcolm Healey, 84, hid behind his position as a respected pillar of his community in Fulneck, near Pudsey, to prey on victim Hugh Norton.
Mr Norton, now 67, agreed to waive his anonymity to discuss the years of torment Healey’s abuse had caused him after finding the courage to make a complaint against his abuser.
He told the YEP: “For half a lifetime Healey has hidden his sordid secrets behind a carefully constructed veneer of respectability while posing as a pillar of the community while I have struggled beneath a burden of guilt and shame. I am grateful that the burden has at last been lifted and the empty shell of Healey’s life of lies has been exposed to public scrutiny.
“For many years he has been seen as a ‘Mr Nice Guy’. But the reality is that he is a snake in the grass who has finally been dragged out of the shadows.”
Healey was jailed two years yesterday after pleading guilty to 15 offences of indecent assault of a boy aged under 16. Healey was also a respected member of the Fulneck Moravian Church committee for many years. Leeds Crown Court heard Healey often abused his victim in the choir stalls during church services.
Mr Norton said: “I hate him because of the fact that I lost a lot of good years and friendships with my mum and dad because of what he did. It was a cynical betrayal of trust in the most callous of ways.
Healey began abusing Mr Norton when he was a ten-year-old member of the Life Boys, the junior section of the Boys’ Brigade.
The abuse continued until he was 15, when he joined the army as a boy soldier in order to escape the abuse.
He added: “When the offending commenced I was a bright pupil at my local school and, after winning a scholarship to Leeds Grammar School my aspirations and hopes of pursuing a high powered military career were encouraged by my teachers and parents.
“In the event my early adolescence was clouded by the shame, fear and associated doubts that this perverse relationship had bred.”
“The relief at escaping the clutches of this evil man was immense and immediate though I have been unable to escape the effects of his behaviour towards me throughout my life.
“It is only now in my late years and with the support of my present wife that I have felt able to confront this demon from the past.”
Healey was able to use his position of trust within the community to target his young victim and groom him before subjecting him to years of abuse.
Leeds Crown Court heard the first offence against Mr Norton took place during a camping trip in the Yorkshire Dales in 1957. Howard Shaw, prosecuting, said Healey would then abuse the boy after Boy Brigade meetings. Mr Shaw said Healey would ask him to stay behind when the other boys had left and then target him.
Healey then grew confident enough to prey on Mr Norton during Moravian Church meetings. The court heard the victim could remember incident from when he was around 12 years of age when Healey would target him as he was in the choir stalls.
On one occasion when he was 14, Healey went to the boy’s home when he was ill in bed and indecently assaulted him when his mother went out of the room to make tea. Nicholas Hammond, mitigating, said Healey was remorseful for what he had done. He said his client had a specific sexual interest in Mr Norton but not in boys generally.
The lawyer handed judge Penelope Belcher letters of reference describing the community work Healey had done over more than 50 years.
Judge Belcher said: “This was an abuse of trust. Those boys would have looked at you for leadership and guidance and would not have challenged what you did.”
Det Insp Lawrence Bone, of Leeds District Safeguarding Unit, said: “We are very pleased that Healey has now been brought to account for his crimes.
“No-one should underestimate the long-term damage that such offences have on victims.
“Many have their lives blighted for decades without being able to tell anyone what has happened to them.
“For some the point at which they are able to disclose what has happened to them is never reached, and for others they only get there after many years of doubt and sometimes significant trauma.
“I can assure any person that has suffered such abuse that no matter when this happened West Yorkshire Police has specialist safeguarding officers who will listen and investigate and do we all we can to see offenders like Healey brought to justice.”