A TORTURER who a judge branded as a continuing danger to children is behind bars – but parents are warned he could be free by 2008.
“Sadistic” Stuart Wedge (48) was this week jailed for four-a-half years after his latest campaign of abuse inflicted on a nine-year-old Burnley boy. But police say Wedge, who has a history of child sex abuse and cruelty going back 20 years, is showing no signs of change and advise families to be on their guard.
He has already served a seven-year jail term and his past victims have been as young as three.
Wedge, who has lived and worked in both Burnley and Nelson, left his most recent victim traumatised and needing counsellling after an horrific two-year catalogue of humiliation, degradation and mental torment.
The former security guard has in the past befriended families by doing oddjobs and then embarked on callous, bizarre and sordid treatment of their youngsters.
The defendant, who lived with his third wife in Cedar Street, Burnley, subjected the nine-year-old to a series of assaults and ill treatment, leaving him crying in pain. Wedge, who has children of his own, put a knife to the boy’s head, hit him with a belt and horsewhip, squeezed his fingers with pliers and shot him with a ball bearing gun, the town’s crown court heard.
He also cut the boy’s hair, taunted him, taped his nose, daubed offensive names on his forehead, kneed and kicked him and took pictures of the child’s misery. The youngster’s mother has branded Wedge “evil” and does not know if her son will ever be able to put it all behind him.
The defendant admitted 10 charges of cruelty against the boy but the court was told he had shown no remorse, minimised his actions and blamed others. He still denied most of the incidents involving the nine-year-old although he had pleaded guilty.
Judge Beverly Lunt, who slammed his behaviour as disgraceful and pathetic, told Wedge: “You are a continuing danger to children.”
She imposed an extended licence period of two years and banned Wedge from working with children for life.
After the case, DC Julie Monk said: “We are disappointed that, despite extensive resources regarding his offending from the probation service, this man’s character remains unchanged.”
The court has been told how, in 1983, Wedge assaulted a four-year-old with a stick and, five years later, was convicted of cruelty and sex attacks on children aged three, four and six.
Between 1983 and 1986 he committed offences against a three year old, which included forcing the boy to sit in front of a fire until he burned and striking him with a cord or flex. The infant suffered injuries to his body and face and was left with scars from the bars of the fire on his bottom.
A year or so later he attacked a little girl with a wooden baton and poked her leg with a steel butcher’s knife. Wedge also forced the head of a five year old repeatedly under water and stubbed cigarettes out on his body in the early eighties.
The defendant has five previous convictions, from between 1981 and 1986 for sex assaults on three children – all of them under six.
His past sadistic behaviour has also included poking an eight-year-old’s legs with a butcher’s knife and forcing a child to do press-ups until exhaustion.
His abuse of a three-year-old was discovered after the child started being sexually explicit and used inappropriate words at school.
Mr Tim Ashmole (prosecuting) told the court the offences against the nine-year-old came to light after he told a teaching assistant at his Burnley school he was unhappy. The boy drew the knife Wedge had held to his head for officers and told them he had not been able to move as the defendant held him down.
But Wedge maintained his denials until the day he was due to face trial.
Mr Ashmole said the nine-year-old’s mother told police the victim was haunted by bad memories.
“Wedge is an evil, bad man who deserves whatever sentence is imposed,” she said.
Mr Hugh Barton (defending) told the court it was not suggested Wedge caused any significant injuries to the nine-year-old. He had been at large since 1992 and there was an 11-year gap when he did not offend.