Care-home boss groomed boys with gifts
London – One of Britain’s most prolific paedophiles was on Monday handed a life sentence for abusing children as young as seven at the chain of residential homes which made him a millionaire.
John Allen, 73, will serve at least 11 years for assaults on 18 boys and one girl in the 1970s and 1980s before he is even considered for parole.
“There have no doubt been more prolific offenders, but seldom can there be so many grave offences committed on so many victims over a long period of time, causing so much anguish and misery,” Mr Justice Openshaw said.
There were gasps and shouts of “monster” in court as the paedophile’s lawyer said his client “maintains his innocence of all charges”.
The one-time hotelier, who had no formal training in child care, imposed a reign of terror across his empire of children’s homes, known as the Bryn Alyn Community.
He opened his first home, Bryn Alyn Hall, near Wrexham, in 1968 and secured contracts with 14 councils to place troubled children at what became a chain of 11 institutions.
In the 1980s he was charging £15 000-a-year to house each of up to 120 vulnerable youngsters – more than the fees at the country’s top public schools – with the business making more than £2-million a year from taxpayers. Paying himself a salary of more than £200 000 a year, Allen enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle including properties in the Cotswolds and the South of France, as well as a half-share in a yacht.
However, Mr Justice Openshaw told him his thriving business “was, as we now know, a front” for decades of abuse. The judge said he had regarded himself as “untouchable” and his victims had been left facing a lifetime of trauma.
“The procession of sad and broken men, aged beyond their years, is a poignant reminder of the damage done by this sort of offending,” he added. The jury at Mold Crown Court was told Allen created a “culture of fear” at the homes and that children who did report the abuse – including to the police – were often ignored or disbelieved.
One victim said Allen ruled the homes with “an iron fist” because both staff and residents were “scared stiff of him”. He would also groom boys with extravagant gifts, such as motorbikes and hi-fi systems, in an effort to buy their silence.
Last week he was found guilty of 27 indecent assaults, one count of indecency with a child and six other serious sexual assaults but cleared of two other serious assaults. The jury could not reach verdicts on four further counts. Stephen Fong, 50, one of his victims, said after the sentencing: “Hopefully he will die in prison. That is not a very nice thing to say but that is how I feel.”
Another victim, Kevin Edwards, said he felt relieved that his story had been believed at last.
Allen is the first person to be convicted after police re-opened their inquiries into a major child abuse scandal in North Wales following bombshell claims on BBC2’s Newsnight that prominent figures including the late Tory peer Lord McAlpine had preyed on boys as part of a paedophile ring.
While the accusation against the former party treasurer was quickly disproved – resulting in the resignation of BBC director general George Entwistle – it prompted a flood of new allegations. Allen, who served six years in the 1990s for abusing children, showed no emotion as he was sentenced.
Despite claims that he may have been linked to an alleged paedophile ring supplying boys to Westminster politicians, detectives insist he was a “lone wolf”.
However, at the weekend former Clwyd council leader Dennis Parry accused him of providing boys to be abused by prominent politicians at the Dolphin Square apartment complex.
Jon Brown of the NSPCC said: “John Allen’s reign of terror puts him high up the scale of the most prolific child abusers of recent times. Instead of nurturing the vulnerable children in his care he subjected them to constant, horrendous sexual attacks.”