Ex soldier from Mansfield has sentence slashed for historic child abuse

The Court of Appeal.
The Court of Appeal.

An 80-year-old former soldier jailed for the horrific abuse of a boy in Mansfield half a century ago had his sentence slashed by appeal judges.

Malcolm Burwood subjected the youngster to horrific crimes before he was even a teenager.

As well as molesting the “very vulnerable” boy - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - he made him perform sex acts.

The abuse did not come to light until 2015.

His victim said his childhood had been wrecked and he had struggled to form close relationships.

Burwood denied everything, but was convicted of four offences at Newcastle Crown Court in January.

He was jailed for 12 years for two counts of indecent assault, indecency with a child and another serious attempted sex crime.

Sentencing in Newcastle, Judge Edward Bindloss said Burwood, of Dene Gardens, Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Wear, had used the vulnerable and isolated boy for his own sexual gratification.

A pre-sentence report described him as appearing “emotionless”, having shown no remorse or regard for his victim.

However, in a hearing at the Court of Appeal in London, three senior judges slashed the “unlawful” sentence to 10 years.

Giving judgment, Lord Justice Julian Flaux said Burwood had been assessed as a “medium risk of harm” to children in the future.

However, he was in poor health himself, with renal failure, memory loss and partial deafness.

Family members had also spoken of him as a “caring and loving” man, devoted to his bed-ridden wife.

The judge said the 12-year term for the attempted attack – which would today be classed an attempted rape – was too long.

He said Judge Bindloss had wrongly sentenced him on the basis the maximum term for the offence was life imprisonment.

Lord Justice Flaux said: “In fact, the maximum was 10 years’ imprisonment.

“Accordingly, the sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment was unlawful and requires adjustment.”

He reduced the overall sentence to 10 years, comprising nine years’ custody and one year on extended licence.