Actor raped 14 year-old girl and sexually abused three other underage children
A panto star has been jailed for nine years for raping a 14 year-old girl and sexually abusing three other underage children.
Matthew Wilson’s victims and their families packed out the public gallery at Leicester Crown Court to see justice served against him.
Wilson, 34, from Burbage, described as an ‘accomplished actor’ during the hearing, targeted young girls who looked up to him through his stage work – while he manipulated them and tricked them into thinking that they were in a relationship with him.
Wilson had appeared in numerous shows at the Concordia Theatre in Hinckley, Leicestershire, and won praise for his performances as Puss in Boots and was acclaimed as being one of the best ugly sisters in a production of Cinderella at the theatre.
Last year the amateur actor took the lead role in Aladdin, again getting rave reviews.
But earlier this year Wilson pleaded guilty to one charge of rape, nine counts of sexual activity with a child aged 13 to 15, five counts of indecent assault and four counts of downloading more than 2,200 indecent images of children at levels one, two, three and four.
Jailing him, Judge Mark Rogers said: “Your behaviour has shattered a number of families.
“I know there are some feelings of guilt, regret and responsibility with those in the public gallery, but they are not to blame.
“This is offending at the highest end of culpability.
“The ages of the girls and the number of victims is very serious.
“You had access to young, vulnerable girls that you met through the theatre. You manipulated people and situations, and the persistence with which you pursued these young girls is a further factor. The consequences were devastating.”
Prosecutor Rebecca Herbert, said: “The defendant has been described as an accomplished actor and it was through the theatre that he had the chance to groom and abuse these young girls.
“He sexually abused them for years and stopped them from speaking about it by making them think they were in a relationship.”
She described how Wilson would exchange numbers with the girls and their relationships would start with text messages.
They would then start meeting up before he began to make physical advances on them and put pressure on them to have sex.
All of the victims suffered stress during and after the ordeal and one developed physical problems due to Wilson’s actions.
As well as serving his sentence behind bars, Wilson was also banned from working with children and was ordered to sign the sex offender register for life.
Defending Wilson, Mr Gibbs said: “This was very wrong and caused damage to a lot of families. From a very early stage he put his hands up and admitted that he had done wrong.
“He was a damaged, needy, weak young adult who has been described as vulnerable. He should have been a role model, but wasn’t.
“He is going to try and make amends the best that he can and make the most of his time in prison.”
Speaking outside court, Detective Constable Glen Williams said: “During this investigation it was clear that Matthew Wilson targeted young girls who looked up to him. He would manipulate them in order to satisfy his own sexual gratification.
“On examination of Wilson’s computer we discovered he had downloaded indecent images of children. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the victims for their co-operation.
“Their evidence was so strong and compelling, that Wilson had no other choice but to plead guilty.
“In dealing with these victims it is clear that the victims have strong family networks and I know it has to be difficult for them to deal with. Yet I am confident they will continue to give the love and support needed for these girls to move forward and fulfil their full potential in life.
“I would also like to thank the many witnesses that assisted this investigation either by giving statements or vital information.”