April 2000

Serial child sex abuser whose reign of terror in Bradford spanned three decades

Robert Clark, of Gwynne Avenue, Thornton, Bradford, was branded “wicked in the extreme” by the judge who sentenced him to nine years in jail yesterday.

The 48-year-old had earlier pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault, two counts of indecency with a child and two other counts of another serious sex offence.

All the victims were aged between 12 and 16 at the time of the offences, which took place between the late 1970s and late 1990s.

Clark showed no emotion as he was led from the dock to the sound of applause and jeers from his victims and their families.

They had packed the public gallery at Bradford Crown Court to see the married father-of-two finally brought to justice.

One of his victims, 24-year-old Gerry Brady – who has waived his legal right to anonymity to tell the T&A of his nightmare – punched the air in delight at the verdict as he left the court.

The court head how Clark “groomed” his five young victims – four males and one female, all now adults – by making them watch pornographic videos.

They knew him as “Bobby”. He betrayed their trust by abusing them repeatedly and over a number of years – making them perform sex acts on themselves and on him.

On other occasions he took two of the boys to Manningham Park and Lister Park in Bradford and ordered them to wait in a toilet cubicle.

Clark then made them watch through a hole in the door as he performed homosexual acts with strangers.

Another of his victims was 14 when he invited her to sleep over at his house. He plied her with vodka before waking her up in the middle of night.

He told her “life is fun, it is a game, life is for living,” and then had unlawful sex with her.

The court heard how the trauma of the abuse took its toll on his victims. One even attempted to slash his wrists.

Passing sentence, Judge Rodney Grant told Clark: “What you did was wicked in the extreme. You took advantage of the trust placed in you by vulnerable children.

“You groomed them specifically so that you could corrupt them, and you corrupted children who were entitled to your protection.

“You have caused untold damage to their lives. And you did all this for your own sexual gratification.”

Clark will be eligible for parole in four-and-a-half years. He will be placed on the Sex Offender Register for life on his release from prison.

The string of offences first came to light in October last year. When Clark finally handed himself in to police four of the victims had already made statements.

When he was told a handful of victims had come forward he asked detectives “Can you tell me which ones have made complaints?”, adding he classed himself as the victim.

Clark, a quarry worker who has two children and a grandchild, claimed he was abused in care when he was young.

He told police he had a “vague memory” of his crimes. The court heard Clark tried to belittle the offences when questioned about them, saying they had started out as a joke.

Detective Inspector Steve Long of the Bradford Child Protection Unit, based at Eccleshill Police Station, today praised Clark’s victims for their courage in coming forward.

He said: “Robert Clark subjected a number of children to repeated, serious sexual abuse over a number of years.

“He knew all of the children and betrayed their trust in him. His abuse has had a profound effect on his victims and the police praise their courage in coming forward and making their complaints a number of years after the abuse.

“It is not uncommon for children to make their complaints many years later. This case illustrates the police will pursue all lines of inquiry in order to bring a prosecution – no matter how far back the offences date.”