Businessman jailed for 30 months for child sex charges
WEALTHY businessman Stephen Read has been jailed for 30 months for a string of sex offences against boys.
The 58-year-old founder and managing director of multi-million pound firm Enviro Technology Services was convicted of five charges last month.
Yesterday, a judge at Gloucester Crown Court called his crimes a "huge abuse of trust and responsibility".
He had denied all 15 charges initially laid against him.
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They related to incidents between 1997 and May 2012, when he took four boys shooting, swimming and fishing.
He also took them on regular trips on his car and to visit his boat. In that time he indecently or sexually assaulted two of the boys in question.
The other charges related to causing the boys to view pornography.
The allegations came to light when one of the victim's mothers overheard a conversation, and one mentioned Read was a 'paedo'.
Read's barrister Jane Rowley, said: "Mr Read had good intentions to do good for these boys, but his judgement was flawed. What started out as fatherly advice turned out to be the start of something else. This trial has had an impact on my client both physically and emotionally."
Judge Jamie Tabor said Read portrayed himself as a generous, patriarchal figure with the boys' families, before the allegations emerged.
"There were two contrasting images I took away from the trial," he said.
"On one hand you were a generous figure who founded a successful company that provided employment for many people.
"You held a position of great responsibility and trust.
"But you took advantage of that trust, particularly with one boy who was young and vulnerable.
"That is unforgivable."
The court heard that since Read's arrest, he had taken a back seat in the running of his business to concentrate on his defence.
As a result, the business had began to struggle and was forced to make a number of redundancies.
It was also revealed the business had been hit with a significant reduction in turnover and Read's health had also suffered.
Mr Tabor said: "I have shown an act of mercy in your sentence, I would not wish your illness on anybody.
"You are not a well man and the time you spend in custody will not be comfortable for you."
Read is due to receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment for his illness, the details of which were not revealed in court, and also has ongoing treatment for diabetes, sleep apnea and serious back problems.
He is expected to serve half of his 30-month sentence, and will then be released on licence. He will spend the rest of his life on the sexual offenders register.