Victims of a predatory sex attacker who came forward after they were inspired by the Jimmy Savile scandal have been left stunned after they were told their abuser will be back on the streets in just three years
Allan Pettinger, of East Street, Renishaw, abused the children - aged between nine and 15 - while he was a leader of a St John Ambulance group in the 1970s.
Derby Crown Court heard today (March 6) that the 61-year-old, who was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault in February, had abused the boys on camping trips to the seaside and the Hope Valley between 1972 and 1978.
The court heard that the abuse had massive emotional impact on the victims, who are now in their 40s, but that they had contacted the police after the details of the Jimmy Savile probe came to light.
Judge Hilary Watson told the court that Pettinger (pictured) would be jailed for a total of six years for the abuse, but that he would serve the second half of his sentence back in the community.
Speaking after the sentencing, victims who attended the hearing said that the prison term did not represent the severity of Pettinger’s actions or the breach of trust that his behaviour demonstrated.
One victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “I’m pleased that he has finally gone to prison but I’m not happy with the sentence. He’s been given six years and it should have been 16.
“As victims we have suffered for years and this doesn’t reflect what he has done.”
Victims described how they had been left emotionally scarred following Pettinger’s assaults, suffering nightmares and depression.
One victim told the court he had been unable to bath his own child when she was little because he was so traumatised by what had happened and he had problems seeing his own children naked,
But defending Pettinger, Barry Gilbert said that the abuse was historical and urged the judge to be as lenient as she could.
He said: “It’s very easy to overstate the impact - it could be somewhat of an exaggeration. These offences were some 40 years ago and with other offences the court would say ‘it’s a very old offence’.
“In the years that have gone by he has lived a blameless existence and the burden is going to fall with his family.
“When these offences were committed, he was probably in his early to mid 20s, and the man who committed these offenses was a more immature and less stable individual than he grew up to be.”
“These may not have been the worst examples of this type of offense that the court is ever going to see.”
Judge Watson said that at the time the offences were committed, the maximum she could have sentenced Pettinger to was ten years in prison, but that modern guidelines would have allowed her to jail him for a maximum of 14 years.
“Sentencing, she told Pettinger: “You were the officer in charge, so when you took these boys away you had parental consent and you had parental responsibility.
“You were in a position of responsibility that you were able to hide behind and exploit.”
Pettinger was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.
Despite the sentence, police urged other victims of historical sexual abuse to come forward.
DC James Wall, who investigated the offences, said: “I would like to thank all the witnesses and victims who came forward to tell me about what had happened to them and what they had to endure at the hands of Allan Pettinger.
“Pettinger was a supervisor in the St John Ambulance charity in the 1970s when he committed these offences. Without the courage and bravery these men have shown by talking about their ordeal Allan Pettinger would not have been brought to justice.
“I would like to take this opportunity to urge anyone who has been subjected to any sexual offence, however long ago, to have confidence that their allegations will be investigated. Derbyshire Constabulary will take those allegations seriously and do everything possible to bring the case to court.”