Former Hartlepool Salvation Army officer jailed over ‘cruel and systematic abuse'

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A former Salvation Army officer who lived in Hartlepool has been jailed for six years after being convicted of historic sex offences committed against two boys.

John Blowers, 82, was condemned by Judge Jeremy Jenkins for the “cruel and systematic abuse” of his victims.

He added that he had carried out “sexual abuse of the basest kind” against the boys.

Blowers, formerly of Hartlepool, was convicted of gross indecency and indecent assault after a trial last month.

He had earlier admitted two counts of indecent assault.

One of his offences was committed in Hartlepool several decades ago.

Blowers’ barrister Jenny Yeo said in mitigation at Newport Crown Court: “He accepts the jury’s verdicts.”

She added that her client had “struggled with his sexuality” as a young man and was brought up in a strict religious Salvation Army environment.

Mrs Yeo said that in his earlier life in less enlightened times, he had undergone aversion therapy “to cure him of his homosexuality”.

She said the defendant was in a current relationship with a man who was in court to support him.

His barrister asked Judge Jenkins to take into account Blowers’ remorse for what he had done.

Mrs Yeo added: “He accepts what he did was shameful and it fills him with horror and he is sorry.”

The judge told Blowers: “What your victims suffered as children is quite unimaginable.”

The court was told that the defendant had a previous conviction committed against a teenage boy.

This will be Blowers’ first experience of custody and Judge Jenkins told him: “At 82, you are bound to feel the impact of a prison sentence more than most.”

As well as being jailed for six years, Blowers, of Upper Tollington Park, Hornsey, London, was told he will have to register as a sex offender for life.