August 2018

Christian preacher sexually abused young girls over and over again

A former Royal Navy sailor has been told he faces jail after being found guilty of repeatedly sexually assaulting two girls 

After six hours and 37 minutes the jury of three women and nine men found 61-year-old lay preacher Steven Clay, guilty of seven counts of indecent assault at Plymouth Crown Court.

He was found guilty of four counts by a 11-1 majority verdict and three counts by a unanimous verdict.

He was found not guilty by the jury of a further count of indecent assault.

During his trial the jury was told he used a vibrator during the abuse in the 1980s.

Former Master at Arms Clay, who was in the Navy for 23 years, denied ever touching the girls sexually.

Clay, now living in Weymouth in Dorset, had pleaded not guilty to eight counts of indecent assault of the girls between 1983 and 1990.

Six of the counts related to one girl and two were in relation to the other.

The girls did not come forward to the police until late in 2016.

The jury watched a video interview of one complainant who said: “I was absolutely terrified of saying anything.”

She said she remembered feeling “disgust and shame” after he allegedly pushed his naked body on top of her.

The witness described him as “cold” and “controlling”.

Jason Beal, in his closing speech for the Crown Prosecution Service, said both women had sought counselling as they both grew up.

He added they had also confided in friends and partners before going to the police.

The jury had heard he was a church-goer and Methodist lay preacher in Portland, Dorset.

He had also worked with a Christian rehabilitation charity the Kainos Community at Verne Prison on Portland.

Judge Paul Darlow warned Clay he faced a custodial sentence at the sentencing hearing on Friday morning.