Former St Annes Boys' Brigade leader, 84, faces wait as jury deliberates indecent assault allegations

A former leader of the Boys’ Brigade in Lytham St Annes has denied a string of alleged sexual attacks on children.

William Bissett, 84, of Rossendale Road, St Annes, is accused of 17 allegations of indecently assaulting boys in the 80s and 90s and is on trial at Preston Crown Court.
The allegations relate to five boys and date back to a time Bissett was involved in church activities at the Church Road Methodist Church, in St Annes, and was leader of the Boys’ Brigade.

Preston Crown Court

Preston Crown Court

One person had made a complaint in 2005 but the investigation did not proceed - however the same person was contacted by police in 2019 after another boy made a similar statement.

Another complainant came forward after seeing a news article about the initial charges against Bissett.

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One man had given evidence that some of the abuse happened on overnight stays.

He said he had been awoken by the defendant pulling down his pants and touching him, and was muttering to himself as he did it.

He said at the time he didn't understand what was happening but knew it wasn't right.

He said the abuse would take place at the church.

The jury was told he didn't tell anybody at the time as he was "embarassed" and didn't know "how to explain it".

Giving evidence earlier in the case, Bissett denied the allegations and claimed there was always a "security volunteer" in the building.

In addition, a woman who had helped with the group in the 90s gave evidence that several adults were usually present, and claimed this complainant was a badly behaved boy whom she had heard swearing at the defendant.

Another complainant, who joined the brigade in the 80s, said the defendant had told the youngsters to stand in two lines, and that he would stand at the door and call one of them to go out into another room.

The court was told he would inspect the child's uniform, touching them as he tucked the shirt into the trousers.

In evidence, the complainant described feeling "dirty" and "frightened of him", adding: "He was a leader - I did not want to be told off."

Bissett and his family moved to St Anne's for work reasons in the 1970s.

He left in 1989 due to a hip condition.

During his evidence, he was quizzed about tucking children's shirts in and said: "If I saw a shirt hanging out I would have told them to tuck it in and if I didn't there was the odd occasion I would tuck it in for them."

Judge Robert Altham summed up the evidence in the trial, reminding jurors of the evidence the five former members - and defendant - had given.

The jurors have now retired to consider their verdicts.

(proceeding)