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‘Dangerous’ man, 70, jailed for more than 20 years

A former Sea Cadets volunteer who sexually abused children has been jailed for 22 years.

Phillip Grove, aged 70 from Sheffield who lived in Taunton at the time of the incidents, was jailed at Taunton Crown Court on Friday 23 February after being found guilty of 15 charges linked to non-recent sexual offences, including rape.

During a trial at the same court, which is currently residing at North Somerset Courthouse, a jury found Grove guilty of two counts of rape, 10 counts of indecency with a child and three counts of indecent assault.

They heard how, in the 1990s while in the volunteer position of Chief Petty Officer at a Sea Cadet group, he raped one of the victims, sexually assaulted another and was indecent in front of two other victims. The incidents happened over a span of six years.

In September 2020, one of the victims reported what had happened to her and the other children to police and an investigation into Grove was launched.

On Friday, he was jailed for 22 years, one year of which will be spent on extended licence. The judge also granted a life-long Sexual Harm Prevention Order and instructed Grove to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

He was also barred from working with children.

In a statement read out in court, one of the victims said: “For almost 30 years, I have lived in constant shame. Shame which I have owned but it was never actually mine to own.

“The whole of my adult life has been overcast in shadow, which I have never been able to shake off… A part of me, who I am, was taken away from me by Phillip Grove.

“My days are plagued by the memories of what happened and the nights I manage to get sleep, I am haunted by nightmares of both the incidents and Phillip himself.”

In a letter to the judge, one victim said she felt ‘worthless’ after what Grove had done to her and described Grove as a ‘sick, sick man’.

Grove was arrested in March 2021 for the offences and, on Friday 8 December last year, he was unanimously found guilty for 15 of the 16 charges put to him.

Presiding Judge Cullum referred to Grove as a ‘dangerous individual’. He added: “You are a self-centred, dishonest and callous individual who has shown no remorse.”

Speaking following the sentencing, investigating officer DC Becky Norton said: “All four victims have been incredibly brave throughout the process and have exhibited exceptional courage. Without them, we would not have been able to put an incredibly dangerous man in prison and seek the justice they so rightly deserve.

“Even though the offences were back in the 1990s, when the victims were children, we were still able to build a case and charges were brought against the defendant which has led to this lengthy conviction being achieved.

“The Sea Cadets have been very supportive of our investigation and, upon being contacted in October 2020, their safeguarding team conducted an internal investigation to gather necessary information to support our enquiries.

“I hope this result reassures other victims of non-recent sexual offences that it is never too late to report a crime to police. I would like to thank the victims once again for showing incredible strength in coming forward.”

Victims of rape or sexual assault, whether recent or not, could self-refer to The Bridge, a sexual assault referral centre available 24/7 all year round, by visiting its website here or by calling 0117 342 6999.

Details of charities and organisations with expertise in supporting victims is also available here.

Details of how to report to the police are available here: www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/report/rape-and-sexual-assault/