December 2015

OAP jailed for string of sex offences against youngsters over four decades

Michael Collin

A former plant nursery boss has been jailed for more than eight years for sexual offences against young people including a young girl and teenagers who helped out at the business.

Pensioner Michael Collins, who ran Barn Close Nurseries in Old Warwick Road, Shrewley, at the time, had denied a number of sexual offences against children.

But a jury at Warwick Crown Court found him guilty of 11 charges of indecent assault on six of his victims and committing acts of gross indecency with one of them and with a seventh child.

Following an adjournment for reports to be prepared on him he was jailed for a total of eight years and three months, made up of various consecutive and concurrent sentences.

The longest sentence, three-and-a-half years, was for indecently assaulting a girl aged seven or eight at a time when he did gardening work at her family’s home.

Recorder Christopher Millington QC pointed out that offence would now be classed as assault by penetration and carry a maximum of life imprisonment – but at the time the maximum term for indecently assaulting the girl was just five years.

Collins (73) still of Old Warwick Road, Shrewley, but who is no longer involved in running Barn Close Nurseries, was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

During the trial prosecutor Simon Davis said: “The defendant had been sexually assaulting people on and off between 1971 and 2006.

“When confronted along the way, he just brushed it off as though nothing had happened.”

“Collins denied the matter, blaming the man who had first gone to the police for setting up the allegations.

“He said he may have touched one young man accidentally while they were making fence panels at the nursery, but that he did not even know three of the others, and suggested they had ‘got together’ to make up lies about him.

But Mr Davis told the jury: “If he had orchestrated everything, he didn’t make it very easy for the officer to trace one of the others.

“You will hear how hard it has been for the officer to track down the complainants.

“If this had been a concocted set of events, you would have expected all the complainants to have been knocking on the door of the officer.”

At the resumed hearing Barry Kogan, defending, said there were references from family members and a friend which showed a different side to Collins, who is in poor health and has suffered heart attacks as well as having a ‘dreadful’ skin condition.

“It is a matter of great sadness that a man who has lived a positive life in many ways finds himself on the brink of a custodial sentence.

“I do invite you to show some mercy towards Mr Collins, not least because of his health problems,” added Mr Kogan.

Recorder Millington told Collins: “You are a frail man of 73 now, but back in the mid-70s, when you were in your 40s and became a visitor to the house where she lived, you had a sexual attraction to a little girl. You took advantage of your access to sexually abuse her.

“She kept the secret of your abuse for many years, and I have read a moving impact statement she has provided.

“There is no doubt she was very profoundly affected by what you did to her.

“Others who later came into contact with you in your business as a nurseryman soon came to understand you had a propensity for groping young men.

“These are serious offences, all of which, in my judgement, cross the custody threshold.

“You fought these offences from first to last.

“That is your right, but the consequence of that is that you have shown absolutely no remorse.

“You continue to deny the offences, claiming that these persons are responsible for some peculiar conspiracy against you.”

October 2015

Pervert pensioner faces jail after decades abusing youngsters

THE FORMER boss of a south Warwickshire plant nursery is facing prison following decades of sexual offences against young people – including teenagers who helped out at the business.

Pensioner Michael Collins, who at the time ran Barn Close Nurseries in Shrewley, had denied a total of 21 sexual offences against nine youngsters.

But a jury at Warwick Crown Court found him guilty of 11 charges of indecent assault on six of his victims and committing acts of gross indecency with one of them and with a seventh child.

The case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on the 73 year-old, who still lives in Old Warwick Road in the village, but who is no longer involved in running Barn Close Nurseries.

He was granted bail, but Recorder Christopher Millington QC warned him: “I do want you to understand that you face the prospect of a substantial immediate sentence of imprisonment.”

His barrister Barry Kogan conceded Collins understood a prison sentence was “highly likely” but wanted to get evidence about his ill health.

During the trial prosecutor Simon Davis said three of Collins’s victims, two of whom he sexually abused, were related.

And the offences came to light when they met at a family gathering in Birmingham in 2012 and began talking about their childhood experiences in the mid-70s to mid-80s.

Independently of each-other, the three of them, a man and two women, then went to the police to report what had happened.

When they did so, other names were mentioned, and the police traced those people, as a result of which six other men, some of whom had helped out at the nursery, also made complaints.

Mr Davis told the court Collins had been sexually assaulting young people on and off between 1971 and 2006.

Collins protested his innocence.

He said he may have touched one of the young men accidentally while they were making fence panels at the nursery, but he did not even know three of the others, and suggested they had ‘got together’ to make up lies about him.

But the jury did not believe him.

One of the women said she had first been sexually abused by Collins when she was seven or eight and he was doing gardening work at her family’s home in the Sheldon area of Birmingham.

The other told how, when she was about 12, Collins had exposed himself and told her he would have her one day.

And during the police investigation four men also said Collins had sexually touched them while they were working for him at various times from the late 80s to 2003.