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Former air cadet officer who abused 12 boys jailed

Ronald Hardman was sentenced to nine years in prison for the attacks in Kilmarnock.

Kilmarnock: Ronald Hardman was jailed.
Kilmarnock: Ronald Hardman was jailed.

A former air cadet officer who abused 12 boys has been jailed for nine years.

Ronald Hardman attacked the youngsters over a 35-period at the squadron in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

The 74-year-old was jailed for five years at the town's sheriff court in November after being convicted of attacks on three teenagers.

But a huge investigation, resulting in 300 former cadets speaking to police, lead to fresh allegations.

More victims then bravely came forward to reveal how they also suffered at the hands of Hardman.

The pensioner returned to the High Court in Glasgow after admitting 15 charges consisting of lewd and libidinous conduct as well as indecent assault.

Lord Beckett branded the crimes "pre-meditated" and "grossly corrupting".

The judge added: "It is apparent that you deceived, manipulated, groomed and coerced the boys."

He also told Hardman such conduct "besmirched" the reputation of organisations like the air training corps.

A hearing was told Hardman was a trusted volunteer warrant officer at the Kilmarnock Air Training Corps (ATC) between 1960 and 1995.

Hardman abused his position to "groom and control" a string of young cadets.

He would also try to buy their silence by giving them money, sweets or takeaway meals.

Prosecutor Eoghainn MacLean said: "Many of these victims have suffered years of anxiety and trauma as a result of the criminality."

The attacks occurred at different locations including the squadron hall, a campsite and at Drumness Forest in Dumfries and Galloway.

One boy, aged 13 when he joined the ATC, was abused between 15 to 20 times.

Hardman gave the teenager a can of lager and told the terrified boy it would be "good" for the youngster's "promotion" if he let Hardman touch him.

Another teenager was attacked with the help of two other cadets. This victim was pulled to the ground and preyed upon during a trip away with the corps.

The court heard Hardman took the opportunity to molest a boy during a fitting for a uniform.

The sex abuse over the years also involved Hardman showing boys pornographic magazines, suggesting they play strip poker and getting them to swim naked.

During one attack, prosecutor Mr MacLean said: "Hardman just laughed as if everything was fine."

The victims kept quiet about what happened for decades. Some admitted to feeling "ashamed".

Sentencing, Lord Beckett said what Hardman done had "blighted" the lives of his victims.

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