A FORMER backstage member of Rugby Theatre who took teenage girls onto the roof of the theatre to abuse them has been jailed.
Sexual predator Douglas Miller had denied a number of offences against girls committed over a period of around a decade from the mid-1990s through his connection with the theatre.
But on the day of his trial at Warwick Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child, causing a child to engage in sexual activity and two charges of indecent assault.
The 57-year-old, of Alexandra Court, Rugby, who also admitted possessing indecent pictures of another teenager, was jailed for a total of eight years and four months and ordered to register as a sex offender for life.
Prosecutor Rebecca Austin said: “The offences span around a decade when the defendant groomed three young women, often plying them with alcohol before taking advantage of them for his own sexual gratification.
“He was 34 to 44 during that time, and a long-standing volunteer at Rugby Theatre, working backstage and involved in dozens of productions over the years. The girls were 14 to 15.”
Miss Austin said one of Miller’s victims was just 14 when she went to the theatre for a ‘taster session,’ after which she remembered seeing him in the bar.
Miller gave her a drink and then took her up onto the roof of the theatre where he began to kiss her and touch her before she made it clear she was ‘not interested’.
The girl’s mother can remember her daughter’s behaviour changed after that, and the victim herself, who did not tell anyone at the time, says it had a severe impact on her.
Another victim, who was also 14, recalled Miller would often sit with the teenage girls and supply them with alcohol. He took her back to his then flat in Regent Street where he exposed himself and got her to perform a sex act on him.
As part of the police investigation when matters finally came to light, officers spoke to a number of people who said they were aware of Miller’s sexual interest in the girls.
Another girl involved with the theatre when she was 15, said Miller also took her onto the theatre roof where he hugged and touched her, and on one occasion got her to go to his home, where he plied her alcohol and had sex with her when she was drunk.
Miss Austin pointed out that was after there had been an investigation into Miller, during which officers found evidence of 148 phone calls between him and that girl over a five-week period.
But Miller denied any sexual contact, and she did not tell anyone what had happened, so no further action was taken.
When Miller was finally arrested in 2015, officers seized a DVD on which they found indecent images of another girl who was over 16 but under 18 at the time they were taken. At the time he took them, it would not have been illegal, but a change in the law meant his continued possession of them was, pointed out Miss Austin.
Graeme Simpson, defending, said although the pleas had only been entered on the day of trial, it had saved Miller’s victims from the ordeal of giving evidence.
He added a pre-sentence report showed another side to Miller in which he was “respected” and had “been kind to people”.
Judge Peter Cooke told Miller: “You were plainly very attracted sexually to a number of young girls who came to the theatre, and you repeatedly abused your position to have your own way with those girls.
“You preyed on their youthfulness and vulnerability. On any view that is a gross breach of the trust not only of the girls, but of their parents.
“You took away what should have been happy memories of those years, and fun in putting on those productions, by the way you slaked your lust on them.”
The judge also imposed a sexual harm prevention order with conditions which would prevent him after his release entering into any relationship with any person who had children under 16 without informing his offender manager.