AN Amesbury man who manipulated children for his own sexual gratification has been jailed for 12 years.

Paul Ruth, aged 53, of Finnis Road, Amesbury, was sentenced at Plymouth Crown Court today (Wednesday) after admitting 17 offences including sexual assault on a child under 13 by touching, indecent assault, committing an act of gross indecency in front of a child and buggery at an earlier hearing.

The court heard that the offences were committed against six victims in Plymouth between 1991 and 2009.

The former teacher was arrested on December 27, 2016 after turning himself in to police.

He attended Charles Cross police station in Plymouth after he became aware that an allegation had been made against him.

At the station he told police he had been abusing children and wanted help.

A police investigation was launched and it was established that Ruth had worked with children in various capacities over three decades, having previously been a school governor, a teaching assistant, a boxing coach and a cadet instructor in locations across Plymouth and Devon.

Enquiries were undertaken and police identified a number of individuals who had suffered abuse by Ruth.

Detective Inspector Stephanie Blundell, of the Public Protection Unit in Plymouth, said: "Ruth is a manipulative individual who groomed his victims and those around him to provide him with the opportunities to commit offences against children who he was entrusted to protect.

"His crimes are an abhorrent abuse of the trust placed in him and we praise the courage of the victims in this case for the strength they have demonstrated in coming forward.

"This case is demonstrative of our commitment to getting justice for victims no matter how much time has passed since the offences happened.

"I would encourage anyone who has been affected by this case to contact police, quoting enquiry number EN/17129/17."

Ruth previously appeared at court in November when he asked to be allowed to start his impending sentence straight away.

Today he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for the offences committed.

An NSPCC spokesperson for the South West said: “Despicably, Ruth abused the trust placed him on a number of occasions for his own twisted sexual gratification.

“Child sexual abuse has devastating effects and it’s vital that survivors know they will be listened to and supported, no matter how much time has passed since the crimes took place.

“It’s also crucial that children are safeguarded from abuse, which is why the NSPCC is calling for everyone who works with children to be given the most stringent checks possible."