'I was raped by my scout leader aged 11' - Derbyshire rape survivor shares harrowing story
“His real name was Robert Andrew Bustard, but I called him Andy. He was my scout leader- and he was the person who raped me.”
A Derbyshire teenager has shared the harrowing story of how he was raped by his scout leader when he was just 11-years-old.
Gabriel Poole is now 19 and is hoping that going public will encourage other rape survivors and victims of sexual abuse to speak out. He has bravely waived his anonymity to speak to the Derbyshire Times about his harrowing ordeal, which happened in 2013.
Gabe, a shy South Normanton schoolboy, was thrilled when 25-year-old scout leader Robert Bustard, or ‘Andy’ as he was known among youngsters, took him under his wing.
“He was a really nice guy. He was a big kid,” said Gabe. “He’d always talk to the parents, have nice chats with them. There was nothing dodgy about Andy, we thought. The scouts trusted him 100 per cent.”
The friendship took a sinister turn when, around five months later, Bustard convinced Gabe and a friend to visit his house to smoke cannabis, drink alcohol and shoot pellet guns.
They were watching a film when Bustard asked Gabe to perform a sex act.
“He came onto me and I said no, that’s weird. I don’t want to do that,” said Gabe. “That annoyed him. I went into the bedroom, that’s where he forced himself on me. He raped me.
“It lasted about a minute. I didn’t know what was happening, what I was doing. I was just so confused.
“I said to my friend, we need to go, we need to get out now. I ran for the door and Andy chased after me with a knife. He said, ‘If you leave, I’ll f***ing kill you. You can’t tell anyone. I’ll f***ing murder you.
“After that, I stayed on my own in the front room on the sofa. I started to cry. I laid in the bathroom, crying. My friend came to ask me what was wrong, but I just told him to leave it.
“The next day we went indoor climbing and everyone was just acting like nothing had happened.
“At the time, there was a BB gun that was really expensive, I really wanted it- and Andy knew it.
“He sent me a picture of it, saying- if you want it, you’ve got to come back round. And then we’ve got to do what we did that night.”
It was Gabe’s mum, Deb, who called the police after she discovered the messages on her son’s phone.
Deb, who also appears in the film, said: “How do you put it into words? I blamed myself. I took him to Scouts, I drove him there. I’ve thought about it most days, I’ve cried an awful lot.
“I begged Gabe to tell me and he kept denying anything serious had happened. But I knew, because I knew my boy.
“Gabe didn’t have a coping strategy. He went into this dark, dark place. He became withdrawn and quiet, he didn’t eat much. He was drowning.
“I just wanted to wrap my arms around him and make it go away.”
An investigation was launched and finally, at Nottingham Crown Court, Bustard, from Jacksdale in Nottinghamshire, admitted five counts of rape of a boy aged under 13, two counts of inciting a boy aged under 16 to engage in sexual activity and making indecent images of children. He also admitted supplying a Class B drug.
In September 2014, he was jailed for 14 years and placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.
Gabe’s ordeal is far from over as, even as an adult, he attempts to make sense of the world, battling flashbacks and PTSD.
But the brave teenager says he has found solace, a safe spot, in an unlikely place- behind a camera.
A talented photographer and videographer, he’s keeping busy by focusing on new business, Bokeh Photography.
“I now want to help other people tell their stories through a lens,” he said. I love people, so it’s the perfect job for me and it’s something that Andy cannot and will not ever take away.
“He will be sat in a cell not having the freedom to ever do what he really wants. He doesn’t deserve to do what he wants, anyway.
“He and his actions ruined many people, but victims aren’t weak and when they realise that it allows them to do great things and inspire others.
“When I get down or sad, I take myself back to those happy places such as with my camera, or listening to music, and I visualise myself surrounded by all the things that make me happy.
“I will go out and talk to friends, I’ll have a walk into the woods, take myself out into nature and just let go.”
Gabe has urged anyone affected by any kind of abuse to speak out.
“I encourage everyone and anyone if they are going through something bad, to find one person who they can put their faith and trust in,” he said.
"Whether this be a family member, a teacher or a friend- open the door and allow those feelings to come out. If not, there are many great charities and helplines.”
“There is always someone that will be willing to help or listen.
"Don't be afraid of the past, don't be afraid to accept it and embrace the situation. Things do get better. Things move on and time heals. Good people are key and so are dreams."
A spokesman for the Scouts said: “The Scout Association is aware of the 2013 case involving Robert Bustard and we co-operated fully with the statutory authorities throughout the investigation.
“The safety of young people in our care is our number one priority, and we treat any allegations with the utmost seriousness.
“In 2013, Bustard pleaded guilty to his crimes and was rightly sentenced to a very long prison term.
“Bustard betrayed the trust put in him by young people and parents and there is no place for him in the Scout Movement. We can confirm that he was permanently excluded from the Movement in 2013.
“The Scout Association carries out stringent vetting of all adults who work with young people and requires them to work to a strict code of practice outlined in the “Young People First” Code of Practice.”