An ex-BBC children’s TV star, Ben Thomas, has been jailed for committing child sex offences.
Ben Thomas, 44, from Flintshire in North Wales, abused dozens of children and adults over a 29-year period in Former BBC children’s TV presenter jailed for child sex offencesWales, Shropshire, London, and Romania, Mold Crown Court heard.
Thomas – whose crimes started in 1990 – admitted 40 offences, including indecent assaults and voyeurism.
In July, he admitted 10 counts of sexual activity with a child, eight sexual assaults and four attempts to commit sexual assault.
He also pleaded guilty to nine indecent assaults, seven counts of voyeurism, and two counts of making indecent videos of children.
Before leaving the BBC in 2005, Thomas worked on Wales Today and Ffeil, the Welsh language news programme for young people.
After leaving the corporation, he became a church minister, where he used his position of authority to abuse many vulnerable victims.
Sentencing him to 10 years and four months in prison, Judge Timothy Petts told Thomas: “For nearly 30 years until your arrest in 2019, you hid a dark secret – namely that you were a prolific sex abuser, the vast majority of your victims being teenage boys.
“Your crimes started when you yourself were a teenager”
“They continued through to the time that you were a respected church leader and, to make matters worse, you abused that position to find and select potential victims – some of them in your own home.”
The judge said Thomas’ “preferred method of abuse” was to wait until his victims were asleep.
In one case, he abused an 11-year-old while two of his own children were asleep in the same room.
Many of Thomas’ victims didn’t know they had been abused.
Prosecutor Simon Rodgers said one man thought “dark spirits” were abusing him.
Another of his victims said he was “disgusted” by Thomas’ double life as an “earnest” preacher who also repeatedly committed “horrendous” acts.
After leaving the BBC in 2005 to preach on the streets of London, Thomas returned to Wales in 2008 as a pastor of the Criccieth Family Church in Gwynedd.
He left his post last year.
The church said in a statement it was “devastated by the revelation of such sin and grieve over the pain caused to the innocent victims, the betrayal and deception”.
Detective Constable Lynne Willsher from North Wales Police said: “Ben Thomas’s offending involved the serious sexual abuse of vulnerable young children by a religious leader.
“It is an awful breach of the trust placed in him by the victims and their families, and I cannot begin to imagine what impact the revelation of his offending has had on them.”