A former councillor who raped teenage boys he met in Swindon in the mid-1990s has been jailed for 22 years.

Timothy Darch groomed three victims in their mid-teens between 1996 and 1997 after meeting them through support charities for young gay men.

Judge Taylor said the 62-year-old defendant from South Road Kingsway in Quedgely had “not shown one iota of remorse” for these crimes, in which Darch had “preyed on” the teenagers and “remorselessly prioritised [his] sexual gratification over their welfare”.

The rapist, who had been a member of Lyneham and Bradenstoke Parish Council's planning committee as recently as 2020, sent the 14 and 15-year-olds to pubs and clubs and gave them money, gifts and accommodation.

This, the judge added, “was cynically and manipulatively designed to make them so dependent on [Darch] that they would submit to [his] sexual desires”.

The paedophile appeared at Swindon Crown Court on Thursday morning via a video link from HMP Bullingdon to hear of his fate.

Swindon Advertiser: Timothy DarchTimothy Darch (Image: Wiltshire Police)

Victim statements read out in court indicated that this abuse caused serious mental health problems, made them feel paranoid and full of shame, and that they struggled to trust others, process what happened, or form meaningful relationships.

One victim said: "These incidents have blighted my life. I was a child when I met Tim, so… abusing me was easy for him.

“He played mind games and was very good at manipulating me and others to get whatever he wanted.

"I came forward as I was worried he was subjecting others to abuse like he did me. I wish I had the strength to come forward sooner, but this has taken so much strength from me to get this far.

"No amount of justice will ever give me back what I have lost. I am hoping that I can get some sort of closure from all of this."

Another victim added: “Tim brought me into a world which wasn’t real, where work and responsibility didn’t matter, and having fun did.

"To cope with the education he gave me, I was an alcohol and drug abuser by the time I was 16. It made living with my reality, and the memories of what Tim did to me, easier.

“I will forever be damaged by what happened. My life was shaped by his perversions and desires.”

In February, Darch was found guilty of four counts of indecent assault on a boy under the age of 16, and four counts of rape on a boy under the age of 16.

Altogether, these amounted to at least 10 rapes - seven of which were of victims under the age of 16 - and at least six occasions of performing oral sex on underage youths.

Judge Taylor said to him: “[The victims] were homosexual at a time when it was far more difficult to be. You preyed on the lack of opportunities for them to explore their sexuality and the vulnerabilities of the positions they found themselves in.”

Darch received a 22-year custodial sentence - two-thirds of which will be served behind bars before he is then released on licence - and an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.

Wiltshire Police Detective Constable Ross Duff said: "Darch put himself in a position of trust and exploited those vulnerable children.

"I would like to thank his victims for their incredible bravery throughout this process.

“I hope this sentence reassures our community that we take these allegations very seriously, and that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

“We will relentlessly pursue offenders to secure justice for their victims and want to reassure anyone who reports incidents of serious sexual assault and rape to us that they will be believed”.

Victims can report sexual assaults to the police by calling 101 or visiting the www.wiltshire.police.uk website.