Jan 2007

Paedophile jailed for assaults in the 1980s

A PAEDOPHILE who worked as a gym director at Fromeside Gymnastics Club, Winterbourne, has been jailed for three years after being found guilty of five indecent assaults on young boys in the 1980s in Oxfordshire.

The former Olympic judge and school teacher, Ron Smith, 65, was sentenced to three years in jail at Oxford Crown Court, for five counts of indecent assault on a male under 14 after a two year campaign by private investigator Phil Lewis, 51, to bring him to justice.

Smith worked as a director at the club until September 2004 when they learned about a previous conviction for indecently assaulting two 12-year-old boys in 1969.

Smith continued to teach in Oxfordshire and worked as a gym instructor. He was even a judge at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and was due to be again in Athens 2004, until his past came to light.

When the British Amateur Gymnastics Association, now British Gymnastics, found out about Smith’s background they hired a solicitor who in turn hired Mr Lewis as a private investigator. Mr Lewis had previously worked as a police officer in the Child Protection Unit at Avon and Somerset Police, and had set up his company, Pathfinder Investigations, based in Nailsworth, in 1997, so was seen as the ideal man to investigate Smith’s past .

Mr Lewis started by contacting the school in Oxfordshire that Smith had worked at before using Friends Reunited and other databases to locate people who may have suffered abuse. He met a complainant who had come forward previously to try to gather enough evidence for a case to be brought.

He told the press: “Once I had met the complainant I believed him. When I first contacted the school they couldn’t help at all as all the records had been destroyed so I used the Friends Reunited site to follow any leads.”

After two years of hard work a case was brought as three men had come forward.

Mr Lewis said: “I put in lots of unpaid hours because people deserve to have the matter put to rest. Although they will never fully get over it they have been believed and a man has been convicted.

“I think that considering he had previous convictions he got away lightly and deserved more.”

British Gymnastics declined to comment and nobody from Fromeside Gym Club was available for comment.