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Owner of 11 Wales children’s care homes stands trial for historic child sex abuse

A businessman who led a paedophile ring in a network of care homes he owned abused 20 “highly vulnerable” children in a reign of terror that spread across four decades, a court heard today.

John Allen, 73, preyed on victims as young as seven at homes in and around Wrexham, north Wales, between 1969 and 1990, Mold Crown Court heard on the opening day of his trial. Allen founded Bryn Alyn Community in 1968 and became managing director creating a portfolio of 11 residential mixed-sex care homes for children.

Most of the abuse is said to have taken place at three homes – Bryn Alyn, Pentre Saeson and Bryn Terion – with his alleged victims, 19 boys and one girl, aged between seven and 15. Eleanor Laws QC, prosecuting, said Allen created “a sexualised atmosphere and a culture of fear” where he could abuse at will with the knowledge and help of others.

The court also heard there had been two previous investigations into Allen, one which led to his conviction in 1995 of six counts of indecent assault against six boys, aged between 12 and 16, in the 1970s. “We, the prosecution, say these convictions are supportive of the current allegations and that John Allen had a propensity to sexually abuse vulnerable boys within his care,” Miss Laws said.

Allen was also charged with “serious sexual allegations” in 2001 relating to a number of boys in his homes but not tried due to “a technicality that doesn’t exist today”, the court heard.

Allen, a hotelier with no appropriate childcare qualifications, employed staff to look after the children but he involved himself in some of the work duties including at night and was “a regular and formidable presence”.

Miss Laws said: “It is clear that these boys were often troubled and highly vulnerable. Those charged with their care had no doubt a challenging task but they had a great deal of responsibility and trust placed in their hands – none more so than this defendant.”

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(Abuses at Bryn Estyn Children’s Home in Wrexham led to a new inquiry into care homes in North Wales )

She said boys at the homes described Allen as being abusive and at times violent and would often be under the influence of drink.

Miss Laws said: “They said the staff appeared to be either fearful of him or were colluding with him. He created what has been described as a sexualised atmosphere within the homes, alongside a culture of fear. He was seemingly able to sexually abuse these boys on a regular basis.”

She said some of the victims were picked out and groomed by Allen who would give expensive gifts to some but act violently towards others. Most of the victims felt they had no choice but to put up with Allen’s attentions as they became “hardened to the abuse”.

Some did try to disclose their ordeals to authorities at the time but were either ignored or disbelieved, Miss Laws said. The prosecution also stated Allen was said to have committed some of the offences in the knowledge, or the presence, or with the help of others.

Allen is the first person to be tried under Operation Pallial – the National Crime Agency’s two-year investigation into recent allegations of historical abuse in the care system in North Wales. It has led to more alleged victims of Allen’s coming forward.

Of the 21 people arrested and interviewed so far during the operation, 13 have been charged in one of the largest investigations the NCA has dealt with. A total of 283 people have reported one or more allegations to investigating officers and in 236 cases inquiries are ongoing. Officers have identified 57 suspects, some of whom are deceased.

Allen, now living in Needham Market, Ipswich, denies 40 counts of sexual abuse including offences of indecent assault, indecency with a child, buggery and attempted buggery.

The trial continues.

Report by The Independent (Source Link)