“The most harrowing case I have dealt with in 23 years of policing”- officer in charge of child sex case speaks out
PUBLISHED: 16:35 27 July 2015 | UPDATED: 09:51 28 July 2015
Sex abuser Marie Black sobbed uncontrollably in the dock as the verdicts were delivered. She was heard saying: “I’ve been stitched up.”
But the verdicts follow a lengthy and detailed investigation by detectives from Norfolk Constabulary’s Safeguarding and Investigations department.
Allegations were first reported to police in 2010 but it was in December 2012, when further evidence was disclosed, that police decided they had sufficient evidence to progress the criminal investigation and eventually make the initial arrests in 2013.
On advice from the Crown Prosecution Service East of England Complex Case Unit, ten people were charged with a total of 101 offences in January and June 2014.
The trial heard that the victims had been subject to cruelty and regular sexual abuse, including being forced to take part in sexual acts with each other and with adults at pre-arranged “sex parties”.
Several victims described watching Black and Jason Adams taking photos and laughing.
In interviews the victims described how they were abused in front of one another and other adults. Some of the abuse involved children’s toys, including Barbie dolls.
They said the abuse became so routine that the victims came to accept it as normal.
One of the male victims said: “There would be parties and they would do some games where the boys were in one room with the men and the girls were in another with the women.
“The adults would have a card game and the winner would get to choose a boy to start touching their private parts and then hurt them afterwards.”
Upon conviction, Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Hornby, said: “Our priority has always been – and remains to this day - the safety, protection and welfare of the children in this case.
“In their tender years, these children were subjected to sexual abuse beyond most people’s imagination by adults they believed were telling the truth. It is the most harrowing case I have dealt with in 23 years of policing.
“Today’s verdict is testament to the children’s bravery and to the hard work of dedicated professionals from a range of agencies in this case. It has brought them the knowledge they are believed and, I hope, will encourage other victims of abuse to find their voice and come forward.”
Police say they work closely with partner agencies to safeguard vulnerable children in Norfolk.
Every report or suspected case of child sexual abuse is dealt with by the county’s Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub, based in Norwich, where specialists from the police, social services, health and charities work together to ensure action is taken by the correct agency, if necessary, to protect those at risk.
Norfolk Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the national policing lead for child protection, said the case illustrated that child sexual abuse happens everywhere, and it is everyone’s “social responsibility” to report concerns.
“It is every child’s right to be protected and no child should have to endure cruelty or abuse in any form. We are committed to rooting out and stopping it,” he said.
“A huge amount of work is taking place to tackle this threat but we must stand together in this. Everyone has a moral obligation to report any suspicion of child abuse to the authorities and to help protect vulnerable children from harm.”
If you have been a victim or suspect child abuse call Norfolk Constabulary on 101. All calls will be treated in the strictest confidence. Help and support for victims of child abuse is available by calling the NCPCC 24/7 helpline on 0808 800 5000.