Norfolk

Abused children in Norfolk were 'sexual playthings'

All 10 defendants
Image caption The defendants, including Marie Black (top left) and Jason Adams (bottom left) deny sexual abuse of children

Six women and four men have gone on trial accused of abusing five young children and treating them as "sexual playthings".

The 10, who face 38 charges, deny playing any part in the sexual abuse in Norfolk, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Angela Rafferty QC told the court the children were "sexually and physically abused and neglected... in the early parts of their lives".

Nine of the defendants are from Norwich and one is from Romford, London.

Mrs Rafferty said the "dreadful truth" was these five children "became sexual playthings within that group."

The prosecutor said the defendants appeared "normal and respectable" and showed a veneer of respectability.

She said that the foster carers and social workers in this case were going to be heavily criticised.

"It is likely to be said that they are the ones who are responsible for the children making up these allegations against the defendants," said Mrs Rafferty. She added that this was "nonsense".

'Got too close'

Marie Black, 34, from Norwich, denies 26 offences, including four counts of rape and two of conspiracy to rape.

She also denies charges including neglect and ill-treatment, sexually assaulting children under 13, conspiracy to cause children to watch sexual acts and causing child pornography.

Nine others are accused of offences including rape, child cruelty, causing children under 13 to engage in sexual activity and sexual assault.

They are Michael Rogers, 53, from Romford; and Jason Adams, 43, Carol Stadler, 59, Anthony Stadler, 63, Nicola Collins, 36, Andrew Collins, 52, Judith Fuller, 31, Denise Barnes, 43, and Kathleen Adams, 84, all from Norwich.

All deny all charges, except Mr Adams, who admits four of five child cruelty charges against him.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Prosecutor Angela Rafferty QC said the defendants showed a veneer of respectability

The jury heard that one social worker Gail Barnard got "too close to the issues."

"She took the initiative herself, very unwisely, to investigate one incident reported by the children. She also took steps to interfere with documents," said Mrs Rafferty.

The prosecutor said the jury would consider if Ms Black was "a helpless victim of abusive males or was she herself deeply involved with... children's ill treatment."

The five children will give evidence by video link. The jury was told they would have to decide if what they said was "false or made up."

The defendants can only be named after reporting restrictions, imposed nine months ago, were lifted following an application by the BBC and the Press Association.

The trial continues.

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