Even though most abusers – whatever their age or sex – work alone, there is clear evidence of some conspiracy, of the existence of paedophile rings, sometimes deliberately infiltrating parts of the child protection system, often taking advantage of each other’s political or social power to conceal their activities.
Some are never brought to trial – like the group of men who were believed by police to be abducting homeless girls from the streets of London in the early 1990s and holding them in a converted garage with padded walls, where they were being abused and finally killed. The closest they came to being caught was when the man who was said to be disposing of the girls’ bodies, for £2,000 a time, was identified by the Regional Crime Squad, in Wales, as an ex-convict, a man with a history of spectacular violence who was living in Cardiff. Police investiged him but were unable to identify those who had hired him or to find evidence to charge him.
Others come to trial only partially – like Robert Oliver and Sidney Cooke and their friends who together abducted, drugged, raped and killed Jason Swift, Barry Lewes and Mark Tildesley. They were convicted of manslaughter. Officers from Operation Orchid were frustrated, first because there was insufficient evidence to convict them of murder, and, second, because they were never able to bring any charges at all in relation to six other boys who, they believed, had also died at the hands of the same ring.
Often the links between abusers lie beneath the surface of less horrific conspiracies. Take, for example, the case of Greystone Heath, an approved school for boys in Warrington, which for years enjoyed an unsullied reputation until police finally discovered that it had become a hot spot for paedophiles. This one institution – whose history of abuse is echoed now in scores of others – is a model of everyday paedophile collusion.
It appears to have started in 1965 when a 21-year-old student teacher named Keith Laverack went to work there and embarked on a campaign of buggery and indecent assault. Over the ensuing four years, he raped at least 16 boys, three of whom he shared with his colleague, Brian Percival, the clerk and storeman at the home. Once these two men had established sexual rights over the boys at Greystone, other abusers joined the staff: Alan Langshaw, who raped at least 24 boys; Dennis Grain who raped at least 18; Roy Shuttleworth who raped at least ten; Jack Bennett who indecently assaulted two; and Steve Norris who assaulted an unknown number.
The Greystone abusers then fanned out. Keith Laverack went to childrens’ homes in Cambridgeshire; Alan Langshaw became Principal of St Vincent’s Catholic boys’ home in Formby; Grain and Shuttleworth were both promoted to other homes in the Warrington area; Steve Norris went to North Wales. At their new homes, all of them continued to rape boys who were in their care and wherever they went, they crossed the paths of other paedophiles.
In Cambridgeshire, Keith Laverack worked with numerous colleagues, four of whom are now also suspected of abusing children. Dennis Grain worked in Doncaster for the same group of private schools as Terence Hoskins who went on to become headteacher of St Aiden’s Community Home in Widnes, where he liked to thrash naked boys with a cane, which he then pushed into their backsides, while his housemaster, Colin Dick, indecently assaulted those who caught his eye. Dennis Grain had previously attacked boys in Danesford childrens’ home in Congleton, opening the door to three others, John Clarke, Joseph Smith and Brian Hudson, who set about the boys with relish. Dennis Grain, in the meantime, went off to work at Eton, where he became a housemaster. The web is almost endless.
While he was Principal of St Vincent’s, Alan Langshaw recruited a care worker named Edward Stanton, who joined in Langshaw’s orgy. Stanton appears to have got the job through the good offices of Roy Shuttleworth, who was continuing to abuse the boys at Greystone and who is believed to have known Stanton from their time in Birmingham when they took the same course in residential child care.
That course in Birmingham, in turn, is believed to have been lectured by Peter Righton, a notorious paedophile who attempted to legitimise his obsession in a series of academic studies. Righton, for his part, belonged to the Paedophile Information Exchange, along with Jack Bennett who joined in the abuse at Greystone. Righton had earlier worked in the same childrens’ home in Maidstone, Kent as Peter Howarth, who went on to become a legendary abuser in the homes of North Wales where he shared his indulgence with Steve Norris, formerly of Greystone.
Each of these men claims to have abused alone. Even though their paths connected so frequently, even though the Greystone abusers were assaulting boys in buildings within yards of each other, even though several of them were raping the same boys, they claim never to have colluded with each other. No one who has been involved with investigating Greystone believes them.
The evidence suggests that such abusers not only collude to give each other work and access to children, but also to infiltrate the child protection system. Peter Righton lectured not only in Birmingham but in numerous other colleges. Before he was finally taken to court and convicted, he became a highly regarded consultant in child care and, eventually, the Director of Education at the prestigious National Institute of Social Work in London, a position from which he was able to have some influence on Government policy.
With similar cynicism, Keith Laverack, who opened the catalogue of abuse at Greystone Heath, went on to run the Guardian Ad Litem panel for Cambridgeshire County Council, with the job of representing the interests of children in court cases. This job not only introduced him to the most vulnerable children in the area but also gave him access to files on abused children all over the country. Terence Hoskins, who worked with some of the Greystone abusers, used connections with South Yorkshire police to get access to his own file, from the supposedly secret National Criminal Intelligence Service, NCIS.
Roger Saint who spent years assaulting his foster children in Clwyd secured himself a job on the local adoption panel, from which he could referee complaints about people like himself.
But this is only the beginning. Beyond the inherent difficulty of detecting and preventing this most secret crime, beyond the obstacle course of concealment erected by the collusion of clever paedophiles, the child victims of sexual abuse are betrayed by organisations who repeatedly prefer to avoid embarrassment by concealing awkward allegations and by a system of protection which simply does not work.
Child sex abuse is not only easy to commit, it is also easy to get away with. It is the least reported crime on the planet. Numerous victims say that they were silenced by their own emotions – the same emotions which gag the adult victims of rape, but which are magnified in a child’s mind. Some children simply cannot report it: social workers in East Sussex in 1994 found paedophiles deliberately targetting children who were too disabled to give evidence. Others had picked children who were terminally ill and who died before the system could catch up with them.
Those children who do report what has happened to them are uniquely likely to find their stories rejected. Often, like the adult victims of indecent assault, they will have nothing but their own word as evidence. And the word of a child is viewed with suspicion from one end of the criminal justice system to the other.
North wales Children’s homes
Children in care in north Wales endured years of “appalling suffering”
A Public Tribunal heard damning evidence of how a number of children’s homes supplied a paedophile ring over a 20 year period ! Hundreds of children were subjected to physical and sexual abuse (rape), by those who were entrusted with their welfare. Policemen, church ministers, local authority executives, senior businessmen and politicians, have been identified, but not ever brought to justice.
Much of the abuse took place at Bryn Estyn Children’s Home in Wrexham, where paedophiles like Peter Howarth (pic below) – a former housemaster – sexually abused boys as young as 12.
‘Scum of the earth’ – Howarth was jailed in 1994 for 10 years. He died in prison. But for one of his victims, Andrew Teague, the repercussions of Howarth’s attacks are relived almost every day. “They are the scum of the earth,” he said. “They can paint it any way they like – psychiatrists, psychologists – they can say what they like about them, they are scum.” Four staff at Bryn Estyn have been convicted of either sexual or physical abuse of children.
However, Bryn Estyn was not unique. Complaints were made to the tribunal about 40 homes throughout Gwynedd and Clwyd. Not all the alleged abuse was sexual. Much was physical – children being thumped, kicked and hit for minor misdemeanours. Some children did complain, but according to Chris Walby – a social services expert helping with another child abuse investigation in Merseyside – their word counted for little in an atmosphere where they were not listened to or believed. He said people in power abused their positions.
In harrowing evidence, a seemingly never-ending stream of witnesses repeatedly broke down in tears as they recalled how they were raped, beaten and bullied by carers whom the world praised for apparently devoting their lives to the welfare of children.
Boys and girls as young as ten were raped and sexually assaulted by male and female staff and used as sex objects by carers; youngsters were beaten and forced to lick the shoes of their attackers or cut grass with nail scissors.
Children who complained had their home leave cancelled, suffered more beatings or were transferred to even harsher homes.
At least a dozen victims have committed suicide and countless others have led damaged lives, unable to cope in a world which totally betrayed them when they most needed help. Now adults, many are still struggling to come to terms with the years of abuse they endured.
Deprived of a childhood, their adult lives too have been blighted by broken relationships, crime and mental illness.
Youngsters were trapped in what the inquiry’s QC called “a twilight world of bewildering inconsistency” – abused by the people they were told would care for them, unable to make their voices heard beyond the walls of the homes. Those whom they should have been able to confide in – or complain to – were often their attackers.
Even when concerns reached the outside world, complaints were dismissed, damning reports swept under the carpet, police investigations conducted half-heartedly, appeals to government ministers ignored.
Suspicious murders !
Another unresolved mystery surrounds a fire in a flat in Brighton which killed five people in April 1992. It broke out in the third-floor flat in Palmeira Avenue, Hove, during a Saturday-night party attended by about 20 people, drawn mostly from the town’s gay community.
Several former Clwyd children’s home residents are thought to have been among the guests: two who have been positively identified had been Bryn Alyn residents and knew John Allen very well – Adrian Johns and his brother Lee (also known as Lee Homberg).
Adrian Johns died and Lee Johns (found dead in 1995 after testifying in John Allen’s trial) was badly injured in the blaze, which another party guest, Trevor Carrington, a formerairline steward, admitted starting as a prank. (He himself committed suicide shortly afterwards.) Rumours continue to circulate about the fire, although at the time a link with the Clwyd scandal was not made.
Paul Bicker Wilson, 49, residential care officer at Bryn Estyn. He was given a suspended sentence of three years and two months in 1994 at Knutsford Crown Court for assault and bullying children.
Stephen Norris, 63, (pic above) former residential care officer at the Bryn Estyn home. He was sentenced to a total of seven years jail in 1993 for sex offences against boys. Norris was released after serving half the sentence.
Joseph Dodd, 63, officer in charge at Ty’r Felin. He was investigated, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to take him to court. He later retired on grounds of ill-health. The report was satisified he did use excessive force on the children in his care. He was never been convicted of any offences.
Leslie Wilson, 48, sentenced to 15 months in prison for gross indecency and attempted Buggery in 1977.
Michael Taylor, 58. In September 1993 he had four cautions in relation to indecent assault.The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to pursue to court.
Jacqueline Thomas, 40, one of five people grouped together in the report who were convicted of sex offences against children in 1986 at the Chevet Hey home after an investigation which spanned 1981-89.
David Gillison, 48. As with Jacqueline Thomas, he was convicted of sexual offences in 1986. He was a social worker not then employed in residential care.
Kenneth Scott, 48, sentenced to eight years in prison in 1986 for buggery and gross indecency.
John Allen , 58,(pic below) founder of the Bryn Alyn community. He was jailed for six years in 1995 for indecent assaults on boys in his care over an 11-year-period.
Anthony Taylor ,71, convicted in 1976 of two offences of indecent assault on boys and fined pounds 20 for each offence.
Iain Muir, 51. Another of the five referred to in the report as being convicted of sexual abuse at Bryn Alyn in 1986.
Bryan Davies, 52, convicted in 1978 on three offences of indecent assault, given a sentence of 160 hours of community service.
Norman Roberts, 66, and son Ian Roberts , 42, were both convicted at Mold Crown Court in 1993 of horse-whipping a boy fostered by the family at the age of seven.They were both given conditional discharges and ordered to pay pounds 100 each in costs.
Malcolm Scrugham, 54, described by Sir Ronald Waterhouse as being among the “most serious offenders”.
Gary Cooke/Reginald Cooke, 49, prosecuted in 1980 to two offences of buggery and one of taking an indecent photo. Also named among the most serious offenders.
Arthur Stephens, 71. Co-defendant with Cook and pleaded guilty to buggery and indecent assault. Sentenced to three years.
Albert Dyson, 59. Convicted in 1980 of three offences of indecency against a boy in care.