Former RAF man guilty of sexual abuse at Frodsham children's home in 1970s

Reporter:

Steve Creswell

A FORMER serviceman has been found guilty of sexually abusing two girls and a boy in the 1970s when they lived at a Cheshire children’s home.

David Royle, 60, who served in both the Royal Navy and RAF, had denied 18 charges, including three of rape against one of the girls, while they were all in care at Newton Hall in Frodsham.

But a jury at Chester Crown Court convicted him on all counts apart from rape following a day of deliberations yesterday.

The 15 guilty verdicts were by a majority of 11 to one with a hung jury on the three rape charges.

The Crown Prosecution Service has indicated it will not seek a retrial in relation to those allegations.

Judge Roger Dutton told Royle there was an “overwhelming likelihood” that he would receive an immediate prison term, but granted him bail until the sentencing hearing on September 12.

The three victims – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – were said to be between nine and 14 at the time of the offences. Royle was aged between 14 and 16.

During the course of the trial last week the female victims told the jury the defendant would sneak into their bedroom after lights-out and abuse them. This happened three to four times a week for two years.

The male complainant said Royle used to climb into his bed late at night or early in the morning to molest him.

Two of the victims also told jurors that sexual, physical and psychological abuse by older children and staff members was widespread at the home.

Victims did not speak out due to the fear of repercussions from staff if the National Children’s Home organisation (NCH) was “brought into disrepute”.

Royle’s offending emerged after one of the girls – now an adult – got in touch with the male complainant via Facebook between 2014 and 2016 and discovered Royle had subjected him to a similar ordeal.

Complaints were made to police and the three victims were interviewed before Royle was charged.

In a video recording of her police interview, played to the court during the trial, one victim said: “I thought it was time to draw a line under things.”

In police interviews Royle, who now lives at Bracken Court, Harworth, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, denied the allegations of sexual abuse, describing them as “imaginative fiction”.

Giving evidence in court, he admitted creeping into a female-only bedroom and touching one girl on the legs and stomach but denied touching her genitals.

Under cross-examination from prosecutor Matthew Corbett Jones, he conceded the touching must have been sexually motivated but said it was done out of adolescent curiosity.

He said: “I knew it wasn’t right. It was naughty if you like. I was curious and inquisitive.”

Asked by defence barrister Edward Moss why she never made a complaint to staff about the abuse, the eldest female complainant said: “The NCH is shrouded in religion and punishment and you didn’t put [it] into disrepute. This would have put the NCH into disrepute.

“The NCH was an organisation, a Christian Methodist organisation, and there was a lot of abuse going on at the children’s home. It wasn’t just the staff, it was the [older children] as well. No-one ever talked about it. It’s only coming out now because people are listening to us and believing us.”

She also told the jury she had asked the Citizens Advice Bureau about pressing charges in the late 1990s but was told the case “wouldn’t stand up in court” as they were all minors at the time.

Email:

steve.creswell@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the Chester Leader

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