Glasgow & West Scotland

Kilmarnock air cadet leader Ronald Hardman convicted of more sex assaults

high court, Glasgow
Image caption Hardman will be sentenced next month

A former air cadet officer is facing more prison time nine months after he was convicted of sexually abusing three teenagers.

Ronald Hardman, 74, admitted 15 charges consisting of lewd and libidinous conduct as well as indecent assault.

A court heard he preyed on boys over a 35-year period at the squadron in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

The charges were brought after a fresh investigation during which 300 former cadets spoke to police.

As a result 12 victims came forward to reveal how they had also suffered at the hands of Hardman, who will be sentenced next month.

The court heard he was a trusted volunteer warrant officer at the Kilmarnock Air Training Corps (ATC) between 1960 and 1995.

'Groom and control'

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 boy it would be "good" for the youngster's "promotion" if he let him touch him.

Another teenager was attacked with the help of two other cadets.

This victim was pulled to the ground during a trip away with the corps.

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

'Ashamed'

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

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

Police were initially alerted to Hardman around 2004 but it is not known what happened at that time.

But, in February 2017, the a BBC documentary highlighted historical sex abuse in cadet forces.

This led to his conviction at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last year.

Mr MacLean said: "Attempts were then made to trace as many cadets as possible who might have been abused by Hardman.

"Over 300 cadets were spoken to by police officers."

As a result, more charges were brought against Hardman.

Lord Beckett deferred sentencing for reports.

Related Topics

More on this story