January 2005

Sex beast jail term cut

A CHILDREN’S home worker jailed for a catalogue of sexual abuse against young boys in his care has had his 11-year jail term slashed.

Alan Bennett, aged 66, of Sheridan Court, Monk Bretton, was jailed at Sheffield Crown Court in December, 2003, after he was found guilty of two serious sex assualts and eight indecent assaults.

The attacks all took place in the 1970s and 1980s when Bennett was employed by Barnsley Borough Council at the Needlewood Assessment Centre in Barnsley and the Wellfield House home in Gawber.

Lord Justice Clarke, sitting with Mr Justice Poole and Mr Justice Elias at London’s Appeal Court, ruled the 11 year sentence was excessive and cut Bennet’s jail term to eight years. The judge said the offences had not come to light until 2002 when the first of Bennett’s victims – who was abused at Needlewood House -came forward.

The man said there had been a real “fear of violence” at the home and that boys were made to play a game known as “Commando Time” when they would hide from staff and be beaten if found. These claims prompted the second of the evil pensioner’s victims – who described Bennett as a “father figure” – to come forward and tell of his ordeal while a resident at Wellfield House.

He said he had been made to go upstairs with Bennett, told to lie naked on a bed on his front and then subjected to a grave sexual assault. He then endured various indecent assaults over a prolonged period.

The court heard Bennett had no formal childcare qualifications, but was soon promoted to deputy officer in charge of Needlewood where he presided over a “regime of fear and violence”.

Lawyers on Bennett’s behalf argued his sentence was too long.