Oct 2001

Starling ‘abused 70 more kids’

Paedophile Bill Starling – jailed for the ritual abuse of 12 children at two care homes – raped and assaulted dozens more vulnerable youngsters.

The detective in charge of the nationwide operation to convict Starling, of Rantree Fold, Basildon, said there was evidence that the evil pervert abused at least 70 children at the homes in Hornchurch and Basildon.

Det Chf Insp Danny O’Malley said many of the victims were too emotionally scarred to give evidence against their tormentors – Starling and his former boss Alan Prescott, who was yesterday  jailed for two years for his part in the scandal.

The revelation came as police and social services appealed for thousands of people who spent time in the two children’s homes as youngsters to contact them following the jailing of Starling and Prescott.

Starling, 74, was jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of a string of attacks against children. Prescott, 62, a former magistrate, walked free from court despite being jailed because of the time he had spent in custody.

Starling was convicted of 19 offences, including two rapes, involving ten girls and one boy over a 20-year period at St Leonards in Hornchurch and Greensteads, in Basildon, where he was in charge. Both homes have since been closed.

Now specially trained detectives are trying to contact other youngsters who were placed in the care of Tower Hamlets Council – which ran both homes – from 1965 onwards.

October 2001

Former councillor jailed for sex abuse

A former assistant director of social services, magistrate and Labour councillor has been jailed for abusing boys in a children’s home scandal which may have had as many as 70 victims over 30 years, it emerged yesterday.

Alan Prescott, 62, who was described at the Old Bailey as a “pillar of his local community”, was sentenced to two years in prison after admitting indecently assaulting four boys in his care between 1970 and 1980 while he was superintendent of a Tower Hamlets children’s home.

After being in charge of the home, he became assistant director of social services at the borough, before moving on to become chief executive of Toynbee Hall, a charitable organisation, until his arrest in August last year.

The court heard that the former Havering councillor, fondled boys aged 15 to 19 as they lay in bed, confessed after the trial of William Starling, a colleague and “house parent” at St Leonard’s, the home in Hornchurch, Essex, over which Prescott presided from 1968 until it closed in 1984. In April, Starling was jailed for 14 years for 19 offences including two rapes, buggery and indecent assault, on 10 girls and one boy as young as five over a 20 year period at St Leonard’s and The Greensteads, a home in Basildon, Essex.

The men’s sentences – handed down in April and, for Prescott, last Thursday – can only now be reported after the judge yesterday halted proceedings against Haydn Davies, 62, from Plymouth, a third alleged paedophile who was facing offences ofassault involving boys at St Leonard’s in the 1970s and 1980s.

The case against him was dropped after police lost video evidence from alleged victims, taken during an earlier, aborted, investigation – and the defence successfully argued that without this he could not be guaranteed a fair trial.

Speaking after yesterday’s hearing, Detective Inspector Daniel O’Malley, said Operation Mapperton had unveiled a “harrowing” tale of systematic child abuse at the homes, and that the investigation was continuing. With 3,000 children having passed through the homes while Prescott, Starling and Davies were working there, he believed as many as 70 may have been abused.