North East Wales

Wrexham historical child abuse gang jailed

Clockwise from left: Gary Cooke, Roy Norry, David Lightfoot, Edward Huxley, George Phoenix Image copyright National Crime Agency
Image caption Clockwise from left: Gary Cooke, Roy Norry, David Lightfoot, Edward Huxley, George Phoenix

Five men guilty of being in a predatory paedophile gang in Wrexham in the 1980s have been jailed.

Former wrestler Gary Cooke, ex-bar owner David Lightfoot, former radio DJ Roy Norry along with George Neil Phoenix and Edward Huxley were convicted in June after a long trial.

Boys were assaulted at sex parties at Cooke's home, the hearing was told.

They were jailed for between 14 and three-and-a-half years at Mold Crown Court.

The men were arrested as part of the Operation Pallial investigation into historical abuse across north Wales which was launched two years ago.

Their trial was told the men targeted and preyed on vulnerable boys aged between 10 and 15, in a "systematic and devious manner" before repeatedly abusing them and passing them from one abuser to the next.

Judge Rhys Rowlands told the men their actions had had a profound impact on their victims.

He said their childhood should have been the happiest time of their lives but that had been taken away.

"It is a real testimony to their courage that they came forward to give evidence in a measured and most impressive way," the judge said.

Friday's hearing began with victim impact statements being read before the court.

A victim of Cooke said the abuse had ruined his life.

"My only motivation for speaking out was to stop these things happening to others and to get some justice," he said.

Sentences

  • Former wrestler Gary Cooke, 65, of Leicester, was jailed for 14 years. Guilty of 11 charges of indecent assault, three serious sexual assaults, and two charges of indecency with a child
  • Ex-bar owner David Lightfoot, 73, of Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, jailed for 10 years. Guilty of six charges of indecent assault on a male, two serious sexual assaults and an attempted serious sexual assault. He was cleared of one charge of indecency with a child
  • Former radio DJ Roy Norry, 55, from Connah's Quay, jailed for 11 years. Guilty of five indecent assaults on a male and one serious sexual assault. He was cleared of attempted serious sexual assault and indecent assault
  • George Neil Phoenix, 63, of Wrexham, jailed for three-and-a-half years. Guilty of indecent assault
  • Former police officer Edward Huxley, 70, of Cookham, Berkshire, jailed for four-and-a-half years. Guilty of two counts of indecent assault

The man, who cannot be identified, said his life had spiralled out of control at a very young age and the anger and frustration he felt came out in violence, he turned to heroin and had tried to commit suicide.

"They hurt me, I hurt me because of that, my behaviour was destructive," he said.

"All these things I believe would never have happened if I had not been abused."

Two other men were cleared by the jury at the end of the two-month trial.

'Abhorrent gang'

After the sentencing hearing, Ian Mulcahey, senior investigating officer for the National Crime Agency (NCA), said the guilty men acted as "a predatory group of paedophiles, taking advantage of vulnerable young boys".

"The range of occupations of these men had could not have been more different, but their real common interest lay in the abuse of young children," he said.

Ed Beltrami, chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service Wales, said the "abhorrent paedophile gang" had acted in a "systematic and devious manner".

He said their "fortitude in coming forward to report what happened to them has led to these convictions".

Mr Beltrami said safeguarding and maintaining a victim-focused investigation was an important part of the Operational Pallial investigation with support being offered to all victims of crime through Conwy council's social services department on behalf of all local authorities in north Wales.

The independent investigation led by the NCA was set up in 2013 to examine claims of historical child abuse at children's homes in north Wales.

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