On 24 and 25 July 2017, Terrence Matthews appeared at Maidstone Crown Court in Kent to be sentenced in relation to sexual offences against children between December 1974 and September 1980.

On 25 July 2017 Matthews was sentenced to six years and six months imprisonment. This sentence followed Matthews’ guilty plea and conviction on 21 June 2017 to 11 criminal charges of gross indecency and indecent assault against four victims.

Judge St John-Stevens described how these four victims, then young boys aged between 11 and 18, “went to the Sea Cadets hoping to have structure in their lives, fulfillment and some hoped to go on and have rewarding lives in the Navy”. Although “they should have been nurtured, supported and secure”, Matthews “robbed them of this very period of childhood”. The abuse arose by Matthews “abusing [his] position of authority and trust over these individuals”. The Judge noted that the impact of the abuse “is still disturbing and painful to the individuals who are now adults” and that “the mental scars of the abuse may never heal”.

Over the four decades since the first instance of abuse against these four Sea Cadets, Matthews has committed other offences against children. He has four previous convictions relating to the sexual abuse of children, including one conviction in 1985 for gross indecency against boys aged 10 to 16, who were members of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade.

It is right that Matthews, even as an 83 year old man with frail health, has been brought to justice in relation to these offences. The Judge felt that Matthews’ victims “must understand the strength they have shown in coming forward” as without their strength to report this “abhorrent crime” to the police, there would be no justice.