February 1999

Sex-abuse TV reporter jailed for sordid reign

Central TV reporter John Caine was jailed for five and a half years yesterday for a 20-year reign of sex abuse in which he seduced teenage boys at his luxury Shropshire home. 

Caine, a journalist for 28 years, used his glamorous lifestyle to attract the boys to his home for sex romps, drink and drugs sessions. 

At Manchester Crown Court yesterday, Judge Gerard Humphries condemned him for betraying the trust of his victims. 

Although he was satisfied Caine, who was also ordered to be registered for life on the sex offenders’ register, had not forced himself upon the boys, he had abused them nonetheless. 

Referring to one of the charges which involved a 14-year-old boy living in North Wales, where Caine had a cottage, the judge told him: “You made a friend of the schoolboy and were well known to his family. 

“You betrayed their trust and took advantage of his youth on the pretext of sexual instruction.” 

Caine’s abuse of boys aged 14-16 only came to light after a burglary at his home in May, 1997, which led to police investigating sex assault claims by a young suspect. 

Detectives discovered that over many years, a number of young men had visited Caine’s home at Abbey Court, Lilleshall, and many of them had been abused there. 

“They were attracted by your occupation, your personality and a house in beautiful grounds,” added Judge Humphries. 

Caine was earning pounds 35,000-a-year and the judge added: “The fact that your television career is lost to you is certainly a hardship.” 

The jury of seven women and five men spent almost 12 hours over three days considering verdicts against Caine following a five-week trial. 

He was found guilty of six charges of indecent assault, lying to police in a witness statement about a burglary in his home and two of allowing cannabis to be smoked there. 

Caine (45), a journalist at Central TV for 16 years, was acquitted of two indecent assaults, an incitement to commit indecency and, on the judge’s direction, cleared of three other sex offences. 

He had denied all the offences. 

Mr David Farrer QC, prosecuting, said victims – often from limited or deprived backgrounds – must have found the Lilleshall house, in the grounds of a ruined abbey and featuring a lake, pools, tennis court and sauna, “dazzling”. 

Money, drugs and alcohol were handed round and the generous handouts were a lure for the young and unsophisticated, some below the age of consent, who were abused by former primary school governor Caine. 

The court heard he had met one of the boys who was later abused by him when he gave a talk at a school in Newport, Shropshire

After a chance meeting, the boy was allowed to fish in the lake and was invited for trips in Caine’s Porsche. 

He committed offences against the boy regularly over two years and on one night the drug amyl nitrate was sniffed. 

The youth became a “thoroughly disturbed, delinquent young man”, the court heard. 

As part of his bail, Caine had not been allowed to remain in his Lilleshall home since his arrest and now faces losing the property which has a pounds 100,000 mortgage on it. He had been living with friends in Crescent Road, Stafford, while awaiting trial. 

During his five days of evidence to the court, he publicly admitted for the first time that he was homosexual but insisted he was not a paedophile

“In many minds, homosexual or even gay means paedophile – but I am not a paedophile,” he said. 

He revealed how he did not want his bosses at Birmingham-based Central to know he was gay and became “terrified” when he was the victim of a blackmail plot. 

He paid out £800 to stop a covert tape – which turned out not to have anything incriminating on it – being made public, believing exposure would cost him his job. 

A spokesman for Central TV yesterday refused to comment on Caine’s conviction but said anyone found guilty of a serious offence would face dismissal. 

He said Caine was suspended from his job in October 1997 when he was arrested after he asked for time off to defend his case. 

A spokeswoman for West Mercia Police said: “This was a long and difficult investigation and we hope the victims can take some comfort from the outcome and begin to rebuild their lives. 

“We would pay tribute to the courage shown by these people coming forward with information to assist the police.”