A FORMER serviceman has been jailed for 11 years for 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 against him including three of rape against one of the girls while they all lived at Newton Hall in Frodsham.

But a jury at Chester Crown Court convicted him on all counts apart from rape following a trial in August this year.

Sentencing today, Judge Roger Dutton said Royle had been convicted “quite rightly on the strength of the evidence”.

He also praised the courage of the three victims for speaking out about the abuse they suffered, and for the heartfelt statements they gave to the court following the trial.

“No one who heard their evidence could fail to be moved by the measured testimonies given by each,” the judge said. “This whole experience is raw, even after 40 years.”

He told Royle: “Their whole lives have been impacted by your behaviour. They have lived with what happened to them on a weekly and daily basis ever since. It has truly and substantially had a psychological impact of enormous proportions on each.

“The impact for them has been dreadful.”

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.

Over the course of the trial, the two women 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”.

The judge said: “The victims were clearly frightened about saying anything to anybody. The fear of being disbelieved or disciplined for making any complaint was all too evident.”

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 the defendant had subjected him to a similar ordeal.

Reading her victim impact statement in person via video-link, the first victim said the ordeal had left her feeling “dirty, repulsive and ashamed”. She also has regular flashbacks of the abuse.

“I now know that holding such a secret is something that, as a child, I should not have been expected to do,” she said.

The second female victim said in her statement: “This man has had a life getting away with what he has done and I hope this has finally caught up with him and he takes responsibility for his actions.”

The male victim stated that he felt “ashamed and embarrassed” by the abuse he suffered, which led him to contemplate suicide as a teenager.

“I lived in fear of David but there was no one I could tell or speak to,” he said.

Edward Moss, defending, stressed that Royle had lived a blemish-free life with no convictions until now.

“This is a man who served his country in two separate armed forces,” he said. “He has worked all his life.”

In the 1980s Royle had completed a 3,000 mile sponsored cycle ride in aid of NCH, now known as Action For Children.

“This is a man who offended through immaturity,” Mr Moss added.

Royle, of Bracken Court, Harworth, Doncaster, was handed three consecutive prison sentences relating to each of his victims – two of four years and one of three.

NEWTON Hall on Kingsley Road, Frodsham, was opened by the National Children's Home in 1903.

With a motto of 'Need Not Creed', it finally closed in 1985 having seen 4,113 children pass through its doors.

It was established following a gift of £20,000 by Miss Mary Fowler of Liverpool which was used to buy 100 acres of land and two houses –Newton Hall and Springside Villa.

Over the coming years extra houses were built and a further gift of a 75-acre farm eventually allowed more than 300 children to reside at the complex.

By 1933 there were 12 houses accommodating up to 350 children.

In the early 1980s falling numbers of children being placed in the facility led to the closure of some buildings and the home closed for good in August 1985.

The buildings have now been converted to private use.

* Source: Childrenshomes.org.uk