Jail looms for former police officer
Child sex abuse, Issue 1430
Retired superintendent Anglesea, aged 79, who sued Private Eye, along with three other media organisations, in 1994 over allegations that he was involved in child sex abuse within the North Wales care system, was convicted at Mold crown court of four indecent assaults on youngsters who were 14 or 15 at the time.
The seven-week trial covered allegations from two complainants, men now in their forties who were troubled and vulnerable teenage boys within the care and justice systems at the time of the offences. Their identities are protected for legal reasons but prosecutors last week praised their bravery in describing their horrific experiences in court.
At the time of the crimes, Anglesea was a uniformed inspector covering the area around Wrexham, and he ran a Home Office attendance centre at weekends. He was a married man with children from his previous marriage and with his second wife Sandra – who accompanied him to court on most days throughout the trial. He told the court that in the early 1980s he had a young daughter who was seriously ill and who died in 1983, aged five. What he did not say was that while his daughter was critically ill, Anglesea sexually assaulted a teenage boy multiple times.
Assaulted in the changing room after showers
One of Anglesea’s victims was a young offender who, in 1982, when he was 14 years old, was convicted of burglary and sentenced to go to the Wrexham Attendance Centre (WAC) at weekends.
Attendance centre orders were a type of sentence available for young offenders aged 10 and up. They typically took place on weekends and involved physical activities and learning skills. The court heard from several witnesses that the WAC run by Gordon Anglesea was held every other Saturday for two hours, using the facilities at St Joseph’s Catholic High School. It began with a military-style parade before the boys would change into Home Office-supplied PE kit for an hour of what one witness described as “knackering” exercise.
After the PE session was over, the boys would go for communal showers in the school’s changing room before going to woodwork or first aid classes.
The first complainant in the trial was abused by Anglesea in those changing rooms. He described being told to hang back in a running race on the school field to give other boys a chance to win. This made him last into the showers and resulted in his being left behind in the changing room while the others went on to the next session. Anglesea used this opportunity to touch the naked youngster on his private parts. On two subsequent occasions, after nothing had been said about the first incident, the boy was again encouraged to hang back and was subjected to further sexual assaults on the changing room benches. He said he was crying while this happened. Afterwards Anglesea told him to stack chairs and say he had been asked to do chores, in order to explain why he didn’t make it to the woodwork class.
Anglesea was originally charged with “buggery” in relation to the third such incident, but in evidence the complainant said he was facing away from Anglesea during the assault and was unclear exactly what had been done to him, only recalling that it was extremely painful. The jury found Anglesea guilty on the lesser charge of indecent assault.
The complainant described how since that time he had become an alcoholic and drug user, had an adult criminal record and multiple mental health problems. “I haven’t been psychiatrically well since he abused me. Him. He deserves everything he gets,” he said.
Mr Anglesea’s defence counsel, Tania Griffiths QC, suggested in cross-examination that the complainant was seeking a “bit of money in compensation” but the complainant, who rejected the option to give evidence from behind a screen, insisted he was there “to look him in the eye, that evil, evil man”.
Other men who had attended the WAC as boys gave evidence that Anglesea had watched them in the showers. One described him as having a “horrible grin” on his face and “wandering eyes”. Anglesea himself told the court he had only been to the showers once or twice during the whole period he ran the centre, but counsel for the prosecution Eleanor Laws QC pointed out that he gave a very different account while under oath at the libel trial, when he said he “went to the showers on every occasion there was an attendance centre”.
One witness came forward as a result of reading about the recent trial in the local Wrexham Leader newspaper. He had also been given an attendance centre order in 1982 for youth offending, including burglary, and had to serve 24 hours over 12 Saturday afternoon sessions. He told the court that after very strenuous exercise the boys would go for showers and Anglesea “was always there and always watching”.
Taken from care home to paedophiles
The other complainant in the case described his horrific experiences within the Bryn Alyn care home, near Wrexham, where he turned to home boss John Allen for support. He told the jury that he was violently bullied by both staff and fellow residents. He said Allen initially seemed caring and had promised to make the beatings stop, but had then groomed and sexually abused him.
Allen also took the complainant out to other properties, where he would have to do jobs such as cleaning windows and then perform sexual acts for other men, sometimes groups of men. One day, between January 1986 and January 1987, he said, he was taken to a large house in Mold, where he was forced to perform oral sex on a man. He described the incident as “rough” and “horrible”.
In interviews with police for the 2002 investigation into John Allen (which led to a court case which was stayed), he initially did not fully identify this man, describing him and mentioning his prominent facial birthmark. But he eventually told Operation Pallial officers it was Gordon Anglesea and that he had hoped police would “put two and two together” themselves because he was frightened about repercussions if he named a police officer. On other occasions, he said, Anglesea would be there hanging back “in the shadows” while other men abused him.
The complainant said he had gone on to be an alcoholic and a “bad man” committing violent crimes, and he is currently serving a prison sentence. He contacted Operation Pallial after seeing David Cameron urging victims of historical abuse to come forward in 2012.
John Allen was eventually convicted of more than 30 sex offences, some serious, against boys under 16.
“I was abused, physically, sexually and mentally by a paedophile ring and that man in that box over there was part of that ring,” said the complainant. He said he wanted to sort his life out for the sake of his granddaughter and was seeking justice, not compensation. “And if I don’t get justice, I have stood here and said what I want to say.”
In the company of paedophiles
Two further eyewitnesses gave evidence of having encountered Gordon Anglesea in the company of other known paedophiles. One said he had seen Anglesea at the home of Gary Cooke, where teenagers were plied with drink and drugs and men would pick out boys to abuse.
The man, whose identity cannot be revealed because he is a victim of sexual offences for which Cooke and several others (including local radio DJ Roy Norry) were convicted last year and are now serving jail sentences, said he was sitting in Cooke’s front room, probably in his underpants and watching pornography, when a man with a large birthmark turned up at the door. The man came in, had a conversation with Cooke, then left. He did not know who the man was at that point, but he saw him again when he was given an attendance centre order.
Another witness described encountering Anglesea twice at the Crest Hotel (now the Wynnstay) in Wrexham. The Crest was another location of paedophile activities, as a market stall holder known as “Arthur” regularly took a room and invited youngsters who worked on the market to join him there. The witness said he was invited up to the room, along with an older boy called “Sammy” (in fact this was Mark Humphreys, one of the men who gave evidence in the libel trial and took his own life two months later), and they were offered alcohol and the chance to have a shower.
Arthur tried to get them to join him in bed and took naked photos of them. The witness told the court he had seen Anglesea once in the reception area of the hotel and once in the doorway of Arthur’s room. He said he tried to raise his concerns about Arthur’s behaviour, and about seeing a policeman in his company, with another Wrexham-based police officer, who has since died.
There was also evidence in relation to Anglesea’s contact with Peter Howarth, deputy principal at the Bryn Estyn care home, who was convicted in 1994 of multiple sex offences on boys and later died in jail. Anglesea has always denied having any recollection of Howarth. His connection with Bryn Estyn was the subject of the first newspaper story that led to the 1990s libel case.
North Wales police and crime commissioner Arfon Jones, who was a constable in the early 1980s, was one of three retired police officers who gave evidence that Anglesea went to the Bryn Estyn home on various occasions to administer cautions. Mr Jones said he had dropped Anglesea off at the home. A letter was also read out from the home’s principal to Mr Anglesea, regarding “all the discussions” Anglesea had had with Howarth. Another former colleague, David Edwards, said that Anglesea regularly attended meetings at Bryn Estyn in relation to boys who attended the WAC.
In a bizarre tangent, Edwards also gave evidence that on one occasion Anglesea turned up at the WAC in his “Masonic gear” and told him he had come from a Masonic lunch. Edwards said he thought this was ill-advised because the WAC staff were always supposed to wear casual, non-uniform clothing.
In 1994 Gordon Anglesea successfully sued Private Eye, the Observer, the Independent on Sunday and HTV (the then holder of the ITV franchise in Wales), winning a combined total of £375,000 for damage to his reputation.
Ms Griffiths, the defence QC, said the charges in the latest case all stemmed from the original article in the Independent on Sunday in 1991, and that once Anglesea’s name was connected with the scandal the “nightmare” had never gone away. In the absence of the jury she repeatedly sought – and was refused – permission to raise the allegations against Anglesea made by the three former care home residents who gave evidence in the libel trial, but she was permitted to tell the jury that the libel trial jurors had decided that – on the balance of probabilities – Anglesea had been libelled.
Asked why he thought anyone would lie about being abused by him, Anglesea claimed there was a conspiracy by former Bryn Alyn and Bryn Estyn boys “purely to obtain compensation”. He condemned the Pallial team’s investigation as “abhorrent”, saying there had been a swell of complaints because of the investigators revisiting boys.
Material and additional allegations considered in the tribunal of inquiry into abuse in care homes in North Wales headed by Sir Ronald Waterhouse, and its resulting report published in 2000, Lost in Care, were not allowed to be used in evidence because of an embargo on such material being used in court cases. However, the existence of the inquiry was mentioned several times and eventually the jury sent a note to the judge asking for an explanation.
Operation Pallial – an independent National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation into past abuse in the care system in North Wales – was launched in November 2012 after major child abuse scandals, including the Jimmy Savile scandal, hit the headlines again.
As of this month, Operation Pallial had been contacted by a total of 352 people, with 73 complaints still under active investigation. The NCA has arrested, or interviewed under caution, 51 men and women and the Crown Prosecution Service is considering files in relation to 40 suspects. Anglesea is the ninth person convicted by a jury in a Pallial trial; others include John Allen and Gary Cooke. Another eight have been acquitted.
The operation has also written to many of the people who came forward to give evidence, informing them that their allegations would have put further suspects in the dock if they were not already dead.
The case also leaves questions to be answered by the North Wales Police (NWP). It was revealed in the course of the trial that the force’s professional standards board had received a complaint from the NCA regarding the fact that no action was taken in 2002 when the second complainant in this trial was interviewed in an investigation into Allen. Officers noted in an email at the time that a man identified as “Gordon, with a birthmark” might be Anglesea. The recent trial saw Anglesea convicted in relation to that allegation. NWP confirmed to the Eye that it is investigating the complaint from Operation Pallial. One of the officers involved is still in the police.
North Wales assistant chief constable Richard Debicki said he was “saddened” that a former NWP officer had abused vulnerable victims and would like to apologise on behalf of the force to those whose lives were so traumatically affected. “Nothing anyone can do now will change the past, but I can assure people that the way in which we now investigate sexual abuse, the investment which goes into it and the significance it is given is considerably different to how it was in the past,” he said.
Judge Geraint Walters said Anglesea now faced jail. He was bailed pending a sentencing hearing on 4 November and has been added to the sex offenders’ register.
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