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UPDATE: Former council leader sentenced to 11 years for sex offences

A FORMER leader of South Somerset district council, convicted of indecent assaults against three victims, was today sentenced to 11 years in jail.

Ric Pallister, 74, was found guilty at Taunton Crown Court of 18 counts of indecent assault, with the offences committed between the 1980s and 2000s.

Sentencing him, recorder Jo Martin QC said: “You are a man who has built his life on being powerful.

“I have no doubt in part you sought power to do good, but I also have no doubt you have a dark side, a shadow side to your personality.

“You used your power to control women and teenage girls. I accept you did not intend to cause harm but you were thoughtless of the consequences of your actions.

“In your own defence, you have tried to continue to exercise power and control. It was not a straight denial – you tried to manipulate the jury with half-truths and outright lies. Fortunately, you failed.

“Your protestations of remorse are to my ears false. The harm you have inflicted is immeasurable.”

Pallister received 15 concurrent sentences ranging from six months to two years. He will serve no less than half of his sentence before being considered for release.

Investigating officer DS Frank Glover, of Avon and Somerset police, said: “On the surface Ric Pallister appeared to many to be a dedicated and respected member of his community, but the reality could not have been more stark.

“He was in fact an opportunistic and prolific abuser who carried out a series of appalling sexual offences against three female victims over a significant period of time.

“He was able to commit these acts in plain sight and wielded the ability to groom, manipulate, control and coerce his victims.

“The impact of his offending has been damaging and long-lasting, leaving the victims with mental scars and issues with self-worth and self-belief.

“They’ve shown incredible fortitude in coming forward to disclose the abuse they suffered and they gave compelling evidence in court. I hope this outcome will help them with their continuing journeys to find a form of closure.

“I also hope these verdicts will help other victims of sexual abuse to come forward and report offences to us; we can investigate offences even if they’ve been committed in the past.

“Please don’t suffer in silence and speak to the police, or another agency specialised in dealing with victims of sexual crimes.”

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