Four facing sentence on child-sex ring charges (3.2.89)
The Independent, 3rd February 1989
A BARRISTER, a company director and two other men will be sentenced at the Old Bailey today for involvement in one of the biggest child-sex rings ever uncovered, which lured boys as young as 10 into prostitution.
The four men used a cleaning firm, a football team and CB radio as vehicles to recruit the children, who were so corrupted they believed the abuse to which they were subjected was normal behaviour.
Michael Hill, QC, for the prosecution, said some of the boys became prostitutes, while others became corrupters.
Eighteen young witnesses gave evidence from behind a screen during the trial. Some were said to have been subjected to abuse over five years. The offences in relation to them were only sample charges.
Detectives involved in Operation Hedgerow, a year-long investigation, said afterwards they were convinced that only the establishment of a ‘paedophile squad’ at Scotland Yard could eradicate the problem.
Victims had been selected from Victoria Station, the West End of London, and three special schools, two in the West Country and one in the South-east. Sometimes boys visited men on their way to school. Their parents were knew nothing of their children’s activities until they were contacted by police.
Det Supt John Lewis, in charge of the inquiry, said: ‘These children are having their childhood stolen from them. They are left confused and psychologically scarred. Society has no idea of the extent of this problem. Our investigation disclosed a total of 643 child sex offences. That is only the tip of the iceberg.’
Alan Delaney, 48, a company director, was yesterday found guilty of conspiracy to commit buggery, indecent assault, taking indecent photographs, indecency with a child and attempted buggery. He was cleared of a charge of buggery, and of committing an act intended to pervert the course of justice.
Delaney, of Shirley Drive, Hounslow, Middlesex, was said to have placed advertisements for teenage cleaning staff at his Twickenham, west London cleaning firm and then lured them into sex. He also used in a similar fashion a football team which he ran in north London.
Victor Burnett, 43, of Hanbury Road, Acton, was convicted of conspiracy to commit buggery. He was cleared of two charges of indecency with a child and one of buggery.
The court heard Burnett, unemployed, used CB radio to attract youngsters. Both men claimed the charges against them were fabricated.
Colin Peters, 43, a barrister and former Foreign Office official from Chepstow Road, Bayswater, west London, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to procure buggery and a charge of buggery.
The fourth man to be sentenced is Ernest Whittingon, 64, a council estate orderly at Harlesden, North-west London.
He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit indecent assault and to three charges of buggery.
One of the witnesses, now 22, told the jury that he had moved in with Delaney when he was 16 after joining his football club. ‘He gave me something I never had at home. He was someone to trust, someone to love.’
After a year he ended their relationship, because ‘I didn’t feel comfortable any more doing what I had done.’