East Devon District Council listened in silence this week to a moving statement from one of the victims of John Humphreys, the Conservative former EDDC councillor and Mayor of Exmouth, who was convicted of raping two boys and sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment – an exceptionally long sentence which marked the severity of the offences. The victim, whose name was not revealed, is an Exmouth resident who was 14 at the time he was first attacked by Humphreys. A shocking feature of the statement, which you should read in full, is the repeated failure of the police to support the victim.
The statement was read out by Cllr Eileen Wragg, Liberal Democrat deputy leader of the Council who represents an Exmouth ward. Cllr Wragg, who was visibly upset after reading the statement, praised the bravery of the victim and his mother. She told the council that she met the victim earlier this month. She said: “He’s entirely credible. He’s obviously been deeply affected. The worrying aspect of this for me was there was no criminal record. A DBS check wouldn’t have picked that up. The worrying thing is that children were being sent from the school straight to a paedophile for work experience. That is so worrying. There is a lot more that needs to be investigated here.”
Leader of the council Paul Arnott (Democratic Alliance Group, Coly Valley) said the victim is “one of the bravest people who has ever lived in East Devon.” He added: “I think that’s really important. Not only has he seen this through to a prosecution, he has brought forward this statement tonight through Councillor Wragg.” Cllr Arnott also said at full council that he believes some members of the council must have known that Humphreys was under investigation, although Conservatives denied this.
The public support for the victim represents the change which has taken place in EDDC through the Democratic Alliance administration (which combines the East Devon Alliance, Lib Dems, Greens and Labour with support from other Independents). The council recently held a special meeting to remove the Honorary Alderman position that the previous administration had given Humphreys.