An Epsom child abuser has been jailed for 22 years after being found guilty of attacks on four boys from the 1970s to 1990s.

Robert Thompson offended within his role as an instructor at the Thames Young Mariners from the mid-1970s into the 1980s, Boys’ Brigade leader in Epsom from 1972 until 1980, and as a foster carer from 1987 to 1997.

One of the victims had this statement read out in court: “I want to ensure there is no doubt in anyone’s mind just how much you affected my life in so many ways over 20 years of pain, which I would not wish on anyone.

“You damaged my life, of which I have only one; your impact and impressions leave deeply disturbing memories that will haunt me forever.

“In my mind you are a dangerous, calculating predator who knew everything you were doing and did not care about the repercussions of your actions. I will never forgive you.”

A statement from another victim revealed he tried to kill himself, while another said the abuse has affected relationships throughout his life.

Previously of Station Avenue, Thompson was arrested on March 10, 2016, after a report made by one of the victims – this led to further victims being identified.

He was arrested again on July 6, 2017, and it was discovered he had broken his bail conditions of not having contact with children.

That day, he was charged and remanded in custody to await trial.

Thompson was sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on June 7, having been found guilty of 24 charges – 22 counts of indecent assault and two counts of buggery – against the boys, who were all children at the time of the attacks, on May 10.

Detective Sergeant Simon Doyle from the Complex Abuse Unit said: “Robert Thomson displayed predatory behaviour over a number of decades to exploit vulnerable boys who placed trust in him.

“He groomed and coerced the victims and has had a profound and disturbing impact on their lives.

“This has been a lengthy and challenging investigation that has resulted in a dangerous man being put behind bars for a lengthy period of time.”