A former BBC presenter who sexually abused children and adults as they slept has been jailed.
Ben Thomas, who left the corporation to become a pastor, admitted 40 offences including sexual activity with a child and multiple sexual assaults.
Mold Crown Court heard the offences, which also involved making indecent videos of children, indecent assaults and voyeurism, took place over 30 years, starting in 1990, and involved 33 male victims aged between 11 and 34.
Many took place at Christian camps and conferences, the court heard, and Thomas began the attacks when he was aged 14 or 15.
Sentencing Thomas on Friday to 10 years and four months, Judge Timothy Petts said: “For nearly 30 years, until your arrest in September 2019, you hid a dark secret, namely that you were a prolific sex abuser.”
The judge said Thomas abused his role as a “respected church leader” to find potential victims and “progressed to making secret videos of boys and men”.
Judge Petts said: “You know the harm you have caused to your victims and the wider impact your crimes have had upon your family and the church community.”
Prosecuting the 44-year-old, Simon Rogers told the court on Tuesday that the majority of his victims “had no idea he had sexually assaulted them” and only found out after he confessed to police.
Sometimes, when his victims woke up, he would pretend to be sleep walking, and one awoke during an assault when he felt the bed shaking, thinking “dark spirits” did it to him, Rogers said.
He turned on the light to find Thomas “slumped” between beds, looking “flustered”.
The court heard statements from other victims, one saying that their attacker’s face “won’t leave my thoughts”.
Thomas, from Flint, Wales, who appeared on the BBC’s Wales Today, admitted to police that he would “derive sexual pleasure” from touching his victims.
The court also heard he hid a phone in a wash bag to record boys going to the toilet or showering at an outdoor centre.
Defending the disgraced former journalist, Rachel Shenton told the court his behaviour was “something of an addiction”, that he lost his family after admitting his crimes and had gone through an “enormous fall from grace”.
Officers have not been able to trace all of the victims Thomas confessed to abusing, the court was told.
Thomas resigned from his role as pastor at Criccieth Family Church in Gwynedd after his arrest, and North Wales Police’s Detective Constable Lynne Willsher said she was grateful for the Evangelical Church’s assistance.
Detective Chief Superintendent Gareth Evans said: “North Wales Police welcome today’s sentence and I hope it will give some reassurance and comfort to the survivors of Thomas’s abuse.
“He took a privileged position where he should have provided inspiration and guidance to young people, but instead caused real damage to young lives.”