Ex-police chief jailed for 12 years for historical sex abuse against two boys
A retired police chief who won £375,000 damages after being branded a paedophile by newspapers has been jailed for 12 years for historical sex crimes against two young boys.
Former superintendent Gordon Anglesea, 79, used his position and "connections with authority" to molest his two victims, while running a "naughty boy school" in North Wales in the 1980s.
He escaped justice for 30 years and sued for libel when the press linked him to paedophiles.
Two national newspapers, a TV station and Private Eye magazine failed to convince the libel jury in 1994 that the officer, a regular visitor to the notorious Bryn Alyn and Bryn Estyn children's homes in Wrexham, North Wales, was responsible for molesting teenage boys in care.
Witness Mark Humphries, 30, committed suicide two months after giving evidence against Anglesea in the libel trial.
But last month Anglesea, of Colwyn Bay, was convicted after a six-week trial at Mold Crown Court of four counts of indecent assault between 1982 and 1987, against two boys, both aged 14 or 15 at the time.
On Friday, Anglesea, a father-of-five, stood in the dock as he was sentenced, with members of his family weeping in the public gallery and watched by a packed press bench, containing some journalists he had successfully sued 22 years ago.
Victims abused by others, in now notorious children's care homes in North Wales, also sat in the public gallery.
Anglesea blinked hard and gulped as he was sent down, before turning to his family seated in one part of the public gallery, who gave him a thumbs up.
In a separate part of the public gallery, applause broke out as Anglesea was taken down, and one man shouted: "You're a nonce! Enjoy your porridge tomorrow. You're a dirty wrong'un!"
Passing sentence, Judge Geraint Walters said: "As a person whose obligation it was to uphold the law and protect the vulnerable, your offences against these two vulnerable boys grossly abused their trust placed in you.
"The consequences for them have been profound, indeed life changing.
"Your conduct was but part of a miserable existence that created these two men. Theirs was an existence, not a living.
"They would forever be blighted by it, despite casting these memories into the farthest corners of their minds."
During the trial, Anglesea was accused of having "a connection" to notorious North Wales paedophile John Allen and others who were part of a paedophile ring operating in the region using children's homes as cover for their abuse.
Anglesea was convicted of three counts of indecently assaulting a boy while on duty as a police inspector and one against a second boy at a private address while he was off duty.
He had dodged the abuse claims for years and suggested he was a victim of a post-Jimmy Savile "witch-hunt" by alleged victims conspiring to make compensation claims.
Both his victims, whose lives descended into drugs, alcohol and crime after the abuse, were accused of telling "whopping great lies" as their characters were subjected to a "no holds barred" attack from the defence.
But Eleanor Laws QC, prosecuting, told the jury their evidence was "raw, credible and real".
In victim impact statements read to the court, one victim said: "Of all my abusers Anglesea was the worst, he was the man I feared the most because of his threatening, aggressive demeanour."
The other said: "This man subsequently changed the course of my life. I can honestly say my life has been a hectic chain of events leading to alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and mental health problems. I have tried to kill myself on a number of occasions simply because I could not live with the memories of what that man did to me."
Anglesea continued to protest his innocence today.
He instructed his lawyer, Tania Griffiths QC, to take the unusual step of asking the trial judge to issue a certificate of appeal, and let the defendant go free on bail until the full appeal against his convictions could be heard.
Ms Griffiths, citing "material irregularities" in the trial, added: "We say these are perverse verdicts, Mr Anglesea and his family say he's an innocent man, wrongly convicted."
The comment brought groans from the public gallery and Judge Walters cut across her before dismissing the application.
The defendant, a police inspector in Wrexham in the 1980s, ran a Home Office attendance centre in the town in the 1980s where teenage boys convicted of petty crime would be given a "short, sharp, shock" of military-style physical training, marches and parade sessions along with woodwork classes on Saturday afternoons.
Anglesea would "inspect" the parade, make the youngsters do naked sit-ups and squat thrusts, then loiter around the showers "with a smirk on his face".
Three of the assaults took place at the attendance centre, against one boy who was "last back to the showers" after a cross-country run, the jury heard.
The other victim said he was first sexually assaulted by Allen while in care and living at the Bryn Alyn home and the abuse sometimes involved other adults when he was "handed around like a handbag".
On one occasion at a house in Mold, Anglesea "grabbed him by the hair" and forced him to perform oral sex on him, calling him "scum" and telling the boy he had the "power to send him away".
Witnesses told the jury Anglesea became a regular visitor to the Bryn Alyn Children's Home in Wrexham, run by Allen, who was first convicted of child sex offences in 1995 and was jailed for life in 2014 for sexually abusing 18 boys and one girl in his care. The prosecution said the links between Anglesea and other paedophiles in the care homes were "no accident."
Suspicions against Anglesea had first been raised in the media in 1991 when he was named as a regular visitor to children's homes, who had resigned suddenly and without explanation from his police job as questions about abuse in homes were growing.
But he sued for libel, winning £375,000 damages, with the losers, the Independent on Sunday, The Observer, HTV and Private Eye, ordered to pay the sizeable legal costs.
The defendant started his police career in 1957 in Cheshire after serving in the Royal Air Force.
A Freemason, he transferred to Wrexham in 1976, was promoted to the rank of inspector and ran the attendance centre between 1979 and 1987, before retiring as a superintendent in 1991.
Anglesea enjoyed retirement for more than 20 years before being arrested in 2013 by officers from Operation Pallial, launched by the National Crime Agency (NCA) in response to claims on BBC's Newsnight that prominent figures had preyed on boys as part of a paedophile ring.
The NCA is now to conduct another investigation into an alleged cover-up over the child sex abuse scandal at North Wales care homes.
It will look at whether officials were involved in a criminal cover-up of evidence relating to the claims when Anglesea, and others, gave evidence to the mammoth Waterhouse Inquiry into child abuse in North Wales care homes.
At a future hearing the prosecution will be applying for Anglesea to pay the legal costs of the trial, currently running at £165,000, but likely to total a "much higher" amount.
Outside court, Roy McComb, NCA deputy director for specialist investigations, said: "Gordon Anglesea abused children who should have been safe in his presence and caused lasting damage that only his victims can truly know and understand.
"They have shared just some of that impact with the court during the trial.
"I believe the sentence of 12 years imposed by this court today reflects the serious abuse of trust that Gordon Anglesea perpetrated in order to facilitate his sexual offending."
Nine people have been convicted of abusing children as a result of Operation Pallial so far.
There are still 69 complaints under active investigation.