An ex- policeman who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of historic sex offences involving 5 boys under the age of 16 has been jailed for six and a half years at Taunton Crown Court. Devon and Cornwall Police arrested 64 year old Danny Bryant of Moreton Avenue, Bideford, North Devon, on April 18th after allegations against him had been reported by one of his victims. The same victim had first contacted the police in 1988 and again in 2011.
Bryant, who served as a police constable in the North Devon area for more than 25 years, abused his position as a respected member of the police force and a founder member of the Devon and Cornwall Police Surf Life-saving Club in committing acts of sexual abuse against boys placed under his supervision. One of Bryant’s victims, 45 year old Russel Dawson, has spoken out about the abuse he suffered which began when he was 14 years old when he joined the Surf Life saving club of which Bryant was the captain of the juniors. The abuse took place on numerous occasions when Mr Dawson went away with the life saving club.
In 1985 Bryant was based at the juvenile bureau in Barnstaple where he enjoyed a high reputation among social workers, employers and teachers. He was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1985. Mr Dawson first reported the abuse in 1988 but after an initial investigation and a ‘huge amount of stress,’ the case was dropped. In the 1990s Mr Dawson and his family made a number of attempts to alert the police and the Surf Life Saving Club to the abuse but to no avail. When they tried to take out a private prosecution they were visited by Chief Inspector Dibble of Devon and Cornwall Police and were strongly discouraged not to continue. In 1993 Bryant was suspended while an internal investigation took place into a complaint made against him. The following year he took early retirement on the grounds of ill-health but continued to be involved in Surf Life-saving clubs up until his recent arrest.
Speaking outside Taunton Crown Court, Mr Dawson said: “ I hope that today’s sentence will encourage others who have experienced this kind of abuse to speak out. However, the abuse I suffered at the hands of Danny Bryant and the way it was covered up by Devon and Cornwall police has had a devastating effect on my life and those close to me. I only wish that the Devon and Cornwall Police had handled the matter differently when I first reported the abuse in 1988 which I’m sure would have prevented other children from being abused by this man in whom I had placed my trust. Since receiving counselling I have helped to form a support group for male victims of sexual abuse called moMENtum. Our aim is to break the silence that surrounds childhood sexual abuse and rid victims of the crippling shame that devastates lives. There are plenty of other support services willing to listen and act upon allegations of this kind of abuse. People must not be afraid to speak out against their abusers even if these people are respected in their community or hold a position of authority.”
Solicitor Deborah Corcoran of Simpson Millar, representing Mr Dawson in his civil claim, said: My client and his family told the police about the abuse by Bryant over 25 years ago but the complaint was never properly investigated. Because of this Bryant was allowed to go on to abuse others. On behalf of my client and his family we will be asking for an independent inquiry to establish why the Devon and Cornwall police allowed this to happen.”
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