Hotelier guilty of child sex abuse
A hotelier has been convicted of sexually abusing 19 children who lived in his string of care homes.
John Allen, 73, was found guilty by a jury at Mold Crown Court of committing various historical offences against 18 boys and one girl, aged between seven and 15, at various residential properties in and around the Wrexham area.
The predatory paedophile had no care qualifications when he set up a company named Bryn Alyn Community in 1968, which went on to become a highly profitable portfolio of 11 homes for children.
Many of the complainants, who were vulnerable at the time, said they felt no-one would believe their word against Allen, who was said to be intelligent, charismatic and articulate.
One of his victims said the defendant ruled the homes with "an iron fist" as both staff and residents were "scared stiff of him".
Most of the abuse between 1969 and 1990 took place at three homes - Bryn Alyn, Pentre Saeson and Bryn Terion.
Allen was found guilty of 27 indecent assaults, one count of indecency with a child and six other serious sexual assaults.
He was cleared of two other serious assaults.
The jury could not reach verdicts on three counts of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child.
The defendant was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on Monday.
During his trial, the court heard that Allen was convicted in 1996 of indecently assaulting six boys, aged between 12 and 16, at his care homes in the 1970s. He was jailed for six years following an investigation into claims of abuse at various children's homes in North Wales.
In the same year, the Waterhouse Inquiry was launched to look at the issue of abuse of children in care in the Gwynedd and Clwyd areas and was later published in 2000.
Further complainants then came forward in November 2001 and Allen was charged with "serious sexual allegations" relating to a number of boys.
But the case did not proceed because of a technicality which does not exist today, the jury heard.
It is understood a Crown Court judge ruled that Allen would not receive a fair trial because of previous publicity about his convictions.
Just one of the present complainants gave evidence to High Court judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse and most came forward due to the National Crime Agency's ongoing Operation Pallial inquiry into historical sexual abuse at care homes in North Wales.
Allen also gave evidence to the Waterhouse Inquiry but continued to deny any wrongdoing.
In July 2013, a damning report which revealed "extensive" child abuse in North Wales care homes was finally published - 17 years after it claimed police officers and other professionals could have been identified as potential "perpetrators of assaults".
The Jillings Report was compiled in 1996 but its publication was blocked by the former Clwyd County Council because insurers feared compensation claims.
Mrs Justice Macur is conducting an independent review to examine whether some allegations of abuse were not covered by the Waterhouse Inquiry.
Allen, of Foxglove Avenue, Needham Market, Ipswich, Suffolk, had denied all the allegations against him in relation to 20 complainants.
The jury could not decide on a single count relating to one of the 20 complainants.
Opening the case, prosecutor Eleanor Laws QC, said Allen created "a sexualised atmosphere alongside a culture of fear".
She said he employed staff to look after the children but involved himself in some of the work duties including at night and was "a regular and formidable presence".
Allen was said to have committed some of the offences in the knowledge or the presence or with the help of others.
Miss Laws said boys at the homes described Allen as being abusive and at times violent and would often be under the influence of drink.
She said some of the victims were picked out and groomed by Allen, who would hand out expensive gifts.
Most of the victims felt they had no choice but to put up with his attentions as they became "hardened to the abuse", she added.
Some did try to disclose their ordeals to the authorities at the time but were either ignored or disbelieved, the court heard.
Girls started to come to the homes that Allen ran from 1980.
Giving evidence, Allen said he had no sexual interest in young boys and thought the complainants were after compensation in the wake of the publicity of his 1990s convictions.
He claims that was a miscarriage of justice and that he harmed his own defence in the earlier trial when he absconded partway through those proceedings.
Allen said he "flipped" at the time due to various issues.
Commenting on the verdicts, senior investigating officer Ian Mulcahey said: "John Allen abused vulnerable children he was entrusted to protect. He had complete power and trust over those in his charge and he completely abused that trust. He was a violent man, which he used towards children in his care.
"He tried to control and manipulate his victims and often purchased expensive gifts as a means of exerting this control. These gifts included expensive motorcycles.
"Allen may have believed that he would never be brought to account for his actions. However, the jury has listened attentively and carefully to the evidence from a number of victims who provided graphic, harrowing accounts of Allen's abuse towards them and this has enabled the jury to reach their verdicts.
"In spite of the verdicts, the impact on the lives of those John Allen abused may never be undone."
Officers from Operation Pallial have so far investigated allegations made by 236 people since its launch in 2012.
A total of 120 people have been named as potential suspects, although a number of those are believed to be dead.
Thirty-five people have been arrested or interviewed under caution, with 13 of those charged.
Mr Mulcahy added: "The investigation is ongoing and I want to assure the public that we will continue to take allegations seriously and I would like to finish by saying that I would like to thank all those victims who came forward and played a part in putting John Allen where he belongs - which is behind bars."
Ed Beltrami, chief Crown prosecutor for CPS Wales, said: "John Allen is responsible for a shameful catalogue of abuse, carried out over a long period of time, decades, impacting upon a large number of victims. All of those victims were at the time people who were away from their family homes, in his care in children's homes and looking to him for support and guidance.
"Instead of that, they received shameful abuse from him and a number of very serious offences of a sexual nature were committed against them, which have had a devastating effect on their lives.
"I would like to thank all of those victims who have come forward and supported this prosecution and given their evidence.
"I'm afraid that nothing the criminal justice system can do can undo the distress and damage caused to them throughout their lives by the offences committed by Mr Allen but I hope they will regard the convictions today as another important milestone in their efforts to come to terms with what has happened to them."