A FORMER sergeant in the Chester Sea Cadets sexually abused two teenage boys over a number of years, a jury has heard.

Ian Harrison, 53, denies 13 counts of indecent assault against the complainants, who claim he abused them on camp trips, training exercises and in the city barracks on New Crane Street.

Chester Crown Court heard all the cadets looked up to Harrison, who served in the Royal Marines and had earned the coveted green beret worn by commandos.

It was only in 2016 that a complaint was made to the police by one of the alleged victims, now an adult.

Officers began contacting other cadets and another man came forward to say he had been abused by Harrison, of Staffin Avenue, Ellesmere Port.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, broke down on the first day of a trial yesterday as he described receiving the unexpected call from the police.

Asked by prosecutor Anna Pope how he had felt, he replied: “I felt relieved because it's something I've kept inside all my life. I kept it to myself and never told anybody.

“This has had a massive effect on my life. It's knocked my confidence, relationships with other people, work.

”He's been appearing to me in my dreams.”

Outlining the case, Miss Pope told jurors that being a sea cadet was a popular hobby for teenagers as they took part in camps and parades as well as excursions and activities such as scuba diving.

Cadets generally met twice a week and Harrison was a prominent figure on the scene, leading many of the events and activities.

“He was someone the teenagers looked up to and admired,” said Miss Pope. “It is against this background that he abused his position of trust.”

The defendant “had his favourites”, Miss Pope said, which included the two complainants.

Giving his evidence, one of the men described being summoned to Harrison's office and made to stand to attention.

“He made it quite clear to me all the time that I was there that I was his favourite,” he said.

“We all really looked up to him. I wanted his approval. I wanted him to be proud of me.”

He described Harrison grabbing him by the belt and pulling him towards him, before placing his hand inside his trousers and feeling his genitals through the fabric of his underwear.

When he tried to move, Harrison would “call him to attention”, make air kisses next to his face and pay him compliments about his looks, the court heard.

The man also described several times when Harrison took him back to his home after an activity such as scuba diving. They would watch a film on TV during which Harrison would massage his shoulders and stroke his leg.

He also related anecdotes of how Harrison would join in with the boys' play fights and on training exercises would lie on top of him as he was trying to commando-crawl through a field.

The other alleged victim – who made the initial complaint – was abused on four occasions, Miss Pope told the jury.

Once when the boys were being noisy on an overnight camp, he was told to accompany Harrison out of the dormitory. The defendant led him to a store room where he sexually assaulted the teenage boy.

He too was invited to Harrison's home on several occasions when he claimed the cadet sergeant molested him.

Both complainants lost contact with Harrison for several years after leaving the Sea Cadets but both met up with him again independently of each other at his request in the early 2000s.

The pair, who remained in touch only as Facebook friends, allege that he once again tried to sexually assault them on these occasions.

Harrison, who lived in Chester at the time of the alleged incidents, denied any wrongdoing in police interview and pleads not guilty to all charges.

The trial continues.