Instructor not guilty of three child abuse charges


Image caption Robert Pugh denies 10 other charges of indecent assault against three boys

A former climbing instructor has been found not guilty of three charges of historical child abuse.

A judge directed the jury to find Robert Pugh not guilty of the allegations due to a lack of evidence.

Mr Pugh, 75, of Cardiff, still faces 10 other charges of indecent assault of three boys at Storey Arms Outdoor Activity Centre in the Brecon Beacons during the 1980s and 1990s.

He denies all the charges at Cardiff Crown Court.

All three victims allege they were under the age of 16 when Mr Pugh started abusing them at the outdoor pursuits centre.

The court heard they were subjected to a “pattern of abuse” where “each allege Mr Pugh tried to touch their genitals either over or under their sleeping bags”.

One of the boys alleged he was “petrified” when asked to share a tent with Mr Pugh on a camping trip and was taken to a pub and given beer, despite only being 15.

The jury heard the third man came forward after media reports of the trial earlier this year.

The prosecution said this complainant was also taken to a pub regularly and was forced to share a double bed with Mr Pugh during a skiing trip, when he tried to touch his genitals in the night.

Image copyright Geograph/Jaggery
Image caption Storey Arms Outdoor Activity Centre at the foot of Pen-y-Fan has been part of Cardiff council’s education service since 1971

Mr Pugh, who specialised in mountaineering, told the jury children came to the centre through their schools and those with “significant enthusiasm” were invited back for further courses.

He said he remembered all three boys but did not remember the one boy staying overnight in a tent.

Barrister Hillary Roberts asked: “He alleges you tried to grope him, did anything like that ever happen?”

Mr Pugh replied: “Nothing, no”.

He said after the trip, he had no further contact with the boy until the allegations emerged.

Mr Pugh told the jury he would occasionally knock on the door of the second boy, who was assisting staff at the Storey Arms centre, as a “wake-up call” but he did not remember going into the room and sitting on his bed. 

Ms Roberts asked: “Did you ever make an attempt to grab his groin area?” Mr Pugh replied “certainly not”.

Mr Pugh said he did not remember if the boy travelled in his car on a foreign trip but said he was sure they had never shared a tent and he never made any attempt to grab him in any way.

In regards to the third boy, Mr Pugh told the court it was “just untrue” that he constantly tried to grab his genitals, and denied doing anything indecent.

He added: “When it comes to arms around his shoulders, teachers did those things in the ’80s, I can’t remember if I did.”

He said he did not think it improper to go on a skiing trip alone with the boy and denied sharing a double bed.

The trial continues.

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