- Ronald Hardman, 77, was jailed for a total of nine years in 2019 after two trials
The Ministry of Defence has paid out £1.2million of taxpayers’ money to victims of an air cadet sex predator who preyed on teen boys for over three decades.
The substantial payouts were made following Ronald Hardman’s conviction for a horrific catalogue of abuse that went unchecked by his superiors.
The former warrant officer was jailed for a total of nine years in 2019 after two trials where victims gave harrowing evidence.
As many as 10 boys who were abused while members of 327 Air Training Corp squadron in Kilmarnock, Scotland, have shared the seven-figure payout.
A source told MailOnline others are still pursuing claims against the MoD and could lead to further compensation payouts.
He also said that since Hardman’s conviction other victims had made complaints to police that they were abused.
‘The final bill to the taxpayer for the historical organisational failings of the MoD continues to grow as future settlements are agreed,’ said the cadet who asked not to be named.
‘I know that those who were abused went on to have blighted lives and what happened affected them so much. One of those abused ended up in jail and others have struggled in life.’
The source added: ‘It was an open secret in the squadron that Hardman was dodgy, and we were told never to be alone with him in a room.
‘Those who were above him must have been aware of what was going on, but nothing was ever done.’
A Freedom of Information request obtained by MailOnline reveals that compensation of £180,000 was paid out in 2020 and a further £1.04million was paid in damages relating to 327 Squadron.
The settlements made to individual victims ranged from £100,000 up to £500,000.
The figures in the FoI request were supplied by the Air Command Secretariat based at the RAF Headquarters in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.
Former warrant officer Hardman was jailed for five years in 2018 after being found guilty of abusing three boys from 1981-1995 while helping to run the cadet squadron.
A year later he was back in court where he pleaded guilty to further offences against 12 boys and was given a nine-year sentence.
The extended term was to run concurrently with his original sentence meaning he would serve nine years.
The earliest offence the court was told took place in 1962 when Hardman was in his 30s. The offences that came to court took place when he was in his 40s and 50s.
Now aged 77, he is unlikely to be released until he is in his 80s and will be on the sex offenders register for the rest of his life.
As victims of sex abuse the victims’ identities have remained secret.
But one former cadet spoke out after the 2019 trial to describe how his life was ruined by the years of abuse.
Iain Stalker waived his right to anonymity after Hardman pleaded guilty to a total of 15 charges consisting of lewd and libidinous conduct as well as indecent assault in the 2019 hearing.
Mr Stalker said he was 13 years old when the abuse started and lasted for four years while he was a member of the cadet group.
Now 59, Mr Stalker said the legacy of the abuse led to his stunted development as a teen and later cost him his marriage.
He attended the trial and came face to face with his abuser but was left angered and disappointed at the nine-year sentence.
Mr Stalker said: ‘I felt quite sick looking at the man, thinking of the things he had done and the lives he had ruined.
‘I was really unhappy with the sentence he got. Nine years to run concurrently with his current sentence, so that means he’s only got four years.
‘I don’t think it’s a fair enough sentence for what he’s done and the number of lives he’s ruined. It’s as simple as that. But that’s the law.’
Hardman had been a senior member of the cadet group in Kilmarnock for 39 years and left his position in 1998.
At his original trial in 2018 the court was told he had ‘ruined the lives’ of his three victims.
Giving evidence at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, two of Hardman’s three victims broke down in tears as they recalled the harrowing abuse they suffered.
One of his victims told jurors how sick Hardman sexually assaulted him when he was just 13, saying ‘he would touch my genitals’.
Now married with two children, the 49-year-old also told how the smell of whisky still haunts him after Hardman gave it to him along with adult magazines.
Crying in the witness box, the father-of-two continued: ‘I didn’t ask for this. I’d be sitting down, he would touch me and he would always be smiling. All the time I was being interfered with.
The victim said decades after the abuse he cannot stand the smell of whisky as it ‘reminds him of the abuse.’
A jury took less than four hours to convict the elderly sex predator with the judge presiding over the October 2018 trial noting he had denied the offences and not shown any remorse for his actions.
An intensive police investigation following the conviction led to 300 former cadets speaking to investigators and new allegations being made.
Jailing Hardman the 2019, trial judge Lord Beckett said he had ‘deceived, manipulated, groomed and coerced the boys.’
He also said he had besmirched the name of the air training corps.
The £1million paid in out of court settlements to the Kilmarnock victims comes on top of £2milliom paid out in 2014 for unrelated sex abuse claims filed against the cadet force.
Allegations included sex abuse rituals performed by teenage boys on younger cadets in their charge, as well as the case of a cadet who was raped and gave birth to her abuser’s child.
Eight payouts, totalling £544,213, were made in 2014, according to records released in response to a freedom of information request.
Payments of £1.4million were made in 2012 and £64,000 the following year.
There are currently over ATC 900 squadrons in the UK with more than 24,000 members. The cadet group is seen as a recruiting ground for those interested in a career with the RAF.
Cadets take part in a variety of activities with the emphasis on flying.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman has been contacted for comment.