Operation Pallial: Victims praised for courage as five members of “abhorrent paedophile gang” found guilty
Five men including one from Deeside have been found guilty of a total of 34 sexual offences, following a National Crime Agency investigation in to past child sexual exploitation and abuse in the care system in North Wales.
The five victims in this case were aged between 10 and 15 years of age and were abused by a predatory ring of paedophiles who operated in the Wrexham area during the 1970s and 1980s.
Marc Roy Norry, aged 55, a former local radio presenter from Connah’s Quay, Flintshire, was found guilty of six offences, (five of indecent assault and one buggery). He was found not guilty of two offences, (one indecent assault and one attempted buggery).
George Neil Phoenix, a former bus driver from Wrexham, was found guilty of one count of sexual abuse.
David Lightfoot, aged 72, a publican in Wrexham in the 1980s, from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire was found guilty of nine offences, (six indecency/ indecent assault, two of buggery and one of attempted buggery). He was found not guilty of one offence of indecency.
Eddie Huxley, aged 70, a former Wrexham civil servant from Maidenhead, Berkshire. Huxley, was found guilty of two counts of indecent assault.
Gary Cook, (also known as Mark Grainger), aged 64, a former professional wrestler from Leicester was found guilty of 16 counts of sexual abuse.
Sentencing will take place on Friday September 25 at Mold Crown Court.
Two men, Roger Owen Griffiths, aged 76, a teacher from Wrexham was found not guilty of two counts of sexual abuse and Keith Percy Stokes, aged 62, a former abattoir manager and haulier from Farndon, Chester, was found not guilty of seven counts, (four of indecent assault, one indecency, one attempted buggery, one buggery).
Ian Mulcahey, Senior Investigating Officer said those convicted at court had acted as a predatory group of paedophiles, taking advantage of vulnerable young boys.
“The vast majority of abuse took place primarily at the home of one of the defendants, Gary Cook, in Brymbo. A number of other residential addresses have also featured in the enquiry, together with a former licensed premises known as Snowy’s in Wrexham Town Centre.
“The five boys were young, vulnerable, sometimes isolated by family circumstances and manipulated by this group. They were no doubt chosen for these reasons and were groomed using a variety of treats including alcohol, car trips, pornography and above all attention. They were sexually abused and passed around by the group.
“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. Their grooming was carefully planned and continued over the period of the victim’s childhoods.
“The victims in this case have been brave in coming forward, firstly to speak to the Operation Pallial team and latterly to give evidence at court and I would like to personally thank them for the courage they have shown”.
Ed Beltrami, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS Wales said:
“This abhorrent paedophile gang targeted young and vulnerable boys in a systematic and devious manner. The vulnerability of the victims made them easy prey for the gang.
“Once again, Operation Pallial and prosecution teams are indebted to the courage shown by the victims of these awful offences. Their fortitude in coming forward to report what happened to them has led to these convictions.
“Whilst the criminal justice process cannot put right the wrongs committed by these individuals, we hope that the victims will take some solace in knowing that their abusers have been brought to justice.
“We also hope it may comfort them to know that by their courage others may come forward and report crimes of this nature,” he added.
Safeguarding and maintaining a victim-focused investigation is an important part of the investigation and appropriate support is being offered to all victims of crime through Conwy Social Services on behalf of all local authorities in North Wales.
Operation Pallial is an independent investigation into past abuse in the care system in North Wales being conducted at the request of the Chief Constable of North Wales, Mark Polin.
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