June 2004

A PAEDOPHILE who befriended a series of parents in Banbury in order to sexually abuse their young boys has been jailed.

Oxford Crown Court heard that Alan Johnston, 43, of Poolside Close, who has a previous conviction for indecent assault on a boy under 16, gained the trust of the families before starting a campaign of abuse against seven boys, who aged ten and 11 when their ordeal began in April 2000.

They later criticised the sentence and said they were terrified at the prospect of Johnston returning to Banbury when he is released.

Robin Sellers, prosecuting at the court hearing on Friday, said: “From the day he moved into Banbury, the defendant showed a hand of friendship to two of the boys’ parents, introducing himself straight away. He was good at communicating with children and skilful at gaining their confidence.

“It came to the point that the boys were allowed to play computer games at his flat and were going round between three and four times a week.”

Johnston was invited for meals at one of the family’s homes and even went on holiday with them.

“Johnston asked if one of the boys be allowed to stay over in his flat. He said he was lonely and liked having the company.

“It was around this time when a programme of constant regular abuse of two of the boys began,” Mr Sellers said.

Through the first family, Johnston befriended others, often carrying out the abuse with two or three children in the room.

He bribed the boys with computer games, CDs, chocolate and cigarettes and said if they told anyone he would kill himself. Johnston also frightened the boys into keeping quiet by telling them about his previous conviction and by making up a story that he had been in prison and beaten someone up.

The court heard that on one occasion one of the boys cried out for his mother. Johnston had mentioned this to the parents the next day, saying he had had to comfort the boy when he had a nightmare.

The abuse continued for four years, during which time several of the boys started to show behavioural problems.

The abuse only came to light on February 13 this year, when one of the boys did not return home when he should have.

Mr Sellers said: “The police were informed and his father went to look for him.

“His father asked him about his behaviour and it all came out – he said it had happened to him on about 30 or 40 occasions over the years.”

Another boy said Johnston had performed up to 200 sex acts on him and that they were made to watch pornographic videos before the acts were performed.

Johnston was arrested on February 14. When police arrived at his house he had taken an overdose and had to be taken to hospital.

Johnston later pleaded guilty to 20 charges of indecent assault on a male under 16, one of indecency with a child and two serious sexual offences. He asked for 38 other offences to be taken into consideration, but denied two further accusations of serious sexual offences, which will lie on file.

In mitigation, David Bright said: “Johnston is a man who for all his evil has admitted his crimes and avoided putting any of those boys through the additional ordeal of a trial. He seems to have made a sincere effort to comprehend the the deep degree of hurt that he has caused, not only to the boys but also to the parents and families.”

Johnston was jailed for eight years and put on license for a further three. He will be on the sex offender register for life.

Sentencing, Judge Julian Hall said: “I have to make sure you are not at liberty for a long time to commit any offences like this and that after you are released best efforts are made to reform you.

“I am afraid this is probably a way of life now for you.”

After the hearing, Det Sgt Paul Gibbard said: “I am pleased that Johnston has been given a substantial custodial sentence.

“We have taken a very dangerous person off the streets for a considerable period of time and even on release, he will be subject to the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

“We have also shown an extremely vulnerable group of people that we do listen and take such allegations seriously.”