St Dunstan's Church gravedigger convicted of sex charges against young girls in Cheam
A former youth leader who raped and indecently assaulted vulnerable young girls by persuading them he possessed magical powers has been found guilty.
William “Bill” Lambert, of Malden Road, Cheam, was convicted of one count of rape, two counts of indecent assault and two counts of procuring girls to have sexual intercourse by deception.
The offences date back more than 20 years and took place at a youth club called The Shed in an outbuilding in St Dunstan’s Church yard in Cheam Village.
Lambert, who refused to give evidence during the trial, claimed his victims had “maliciously” manufactured the accusations of rape and sexual assault but the jury at Croydon Crown Court took six hours to find him guilty.
Detective Inspector Neil Matthews, of specialist rape unit Sapphire, said: “I wish to praise the victims for their courage in coming forward to give evidence against Lambert and the untiring work of the investigation team.
“Today’s verdict sends a clear signal that the Metropolitan Police will pursue relentlessly those who commit these type of offences, even when a number of years have passed as in this instance. I hope that this will bring a degree of closure to those affected by his actions.“ Lambert’s crimes came to light in 2009 when, following a counselling session, memories of one victim’s abuse resurfaced.
She reported the pensioner to the police and an investigation was immediately launched by detectives from Sapphire.
Based on the first victim’s account, detectives identified three further victims, one of whom had since emigrated from the UK.
His four victims were aged between 11 and 15-years-old when they were first abused by Lambert between 1985 and 1990 in an outhouse on the grounds of St Dunstan’s Church in Cheam, where he worked as a gravedigger and then as a groundsman tending to graves.
Lambert brainwashed his impressionable victims into believing he possessed special occult powers that could be transferred to them by having sex with him.
The four women, who had not been in contact with each other since their teens, gave strikingly similar evidence of the abuse they suffered at Lambert’s hands.
They described how he would welcome them into the church yard to listen to their problems.
However, he would then go on to speak to them about witchcraft and the occult and tell them he possessed special powers that could make their unhappy lives better.
By this point the impressionable girls would be taken in by his claims and agreed to sex in the belief his powers would be transferred to them.
During the trial Gillian Etherton QC, prosecuting, said Lambert began to run the unofficial youth club after being invited to clean and tend graves at the cemetery, telling the War Graves Commission he wanted to care for the graves of those who had died in conflict.
She said he beguiled the girls, who had personal problems such as abusive and alcoholic parents, into his trust by offering “an alleged safe haven”.
She said: “He would listen to their problems, they would trust him and confide in him.
“He showed no concern for them giving consent. He hoodwinked, deceived and manipulated them. Without that manipulation the children would never have allowed any physical activity with this deranged man.”
Lambert must return to court on June 10 to be sentenced.