September 2007

Three jailed for abusing children

Three people who abused two children during a six-hour orgy arranged over the internet have been jailed.

Liberal Democract activist Archibald Wood, 60, from Tavistock, Devon, was jailed for seven years, and Monica McCanch, 55, of Montego Bay, Jamaica,(both pictured above)  was handed a six-year term.

The incident took place at a house in Fleet, Hampshire, in June 2005.

Steven Horton, 44, from Kemsley in Kent, (pictured below) was given an indeterminate jail sentence but was told he would serve at least five-and-a-half years.

They had previously pleaded guilty to a total of 42 sex offences, with Wood asking for another 17 offences to be taken into consideration.

Kent Police, the force which led the investigation, said Horton had abused the children on his own on separate occasions

After communicating with Wood over the internet, he took the 13-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl to the private property in Fleet.

Wood and McCanch met at the Fleet service area on the M3 before making their way to the house.

Judge Jeremy Carey told the three paedophiles they then “indulged themselves in their sexual perversions”.

He addressed each of them individually as he passed sentence at Maidstone Crown Court on Thursday.

Judge Carey said he was “entirely satisfied that Horton is at the centre of this serious criminality and in his case there are obviously aggravating features”.

He added: “There was plainly a high degree of planning on his part.”

‘Hatred and derision’

Horton’s defence lawyer Oliver Saxby said of his client: “He has gone through the process of accepting what he has done, of feeling utter horror at what he has done, an acute sense of shame and guilt.”

The judge told Wood, an ex-Army major who was a school governor at the time of the offences, that he had “fallen from a great height”.

And he added: “You have failed in every respect to live up to the high standards which you plainly held for a part of your life.

“You now find yourself a figure of hatred and derision from those who at one stage might have respected you.”

Wood’s defence lawyer Ali Rafati told the court his arrest in November last year had brought “great shame” on his family, but his wife had nonetheless pledged to support him.

Suicide notes

The court also heard how church-going McCanch blamed her role on “traumatic experiences” she suffered in her 20s.

Prosecutor Anthony Haycroft said she couldn’t “bear to be labelled a child abuser” and had written five suicide notes.

They were found in her luggage when she was arrested atHeathrow Airport after returning voluntarily from Jamaica at the end of last year.

udge Carey said to her: “You have a complex history and I’m prepared to accept that you were the victim both as a child and an adult of significant abuse, both sexual and physical.”

But he added that other victims of abuse did not go on to do what she had done.

Acting Det Sgt Dave Shipley, the senior investigating officer for Kent Police, said: “I hope that this brings closure for the victims.

“I believe the sentences are an acknowledgement of the seriousness of the horrific crimes against them.

“Despite the ordeal these children have been through, they have shown exceptional bravery in speaking with us and providing the evidence which has helped put these people in jail.”