November 02, 1992 

Sea Cadets sexually ‘tortured’ by their commanding officer

The parents of Sea Cadets sexually ‘tortured’ by their commanding officer sobbed with anger and astonishment at the ‘absurdly light’ jail sentence their sons attacker was given.

‘Sadist’ Ian Barker, 29, was jailed for just three and a half years by an Old Bailey judge

Barker had denied a string of vicious and perverted indecent assaults, but then suddenly changed his mind and admitted eight offences midway through his trial.

But his change of plea came to late to spare three of his young victims the trauma of giving evidence and reliving their terrible ordeals.

As the sentence was announced Barker’s young victims and their parents sitting in the public gallery reacted angrily.

‘Is that all?’ several of them cried, while one mother burst into tears.

And outside the court their fury spilled over. ‘Is that what they call British justice?’ asked one.

It is believed the prosecuting authorities are considering appealing the sentence. Barker has been in the psychiatric wing of the Whittington hospital, N. London since the police began investigating allegations of sexual abuse.

Barker was said to have made two ‘absolutely determined, serious’ attempts at suicide in the months after the abuse was discovered.

Boys aged between 10 and 16 had hypodermic needles jabbed into their thumbs and artery clamps fastened to their mouths until they bled.

Other means of torture included crocodile clips linked up to a battery attached to their genitals. On another occasion a boy had a hard rubber catheter thrust into his urethra (penis).

All were sexually abused either alone or with other cadets and often made to take part in sickening sexual games.

Barker used his authority as a 1st Lieutenant to make them submit to his perverted demands, said prosecutor Mr Orlando Pownall.

Some boys stayed silent through fear, others because Barker threatened to stop them joining the Royal Navy. Barker told them the assaults were a test of their resistance to pain, to toughen them up.

Asked why he never complained one youngster simply explained: ‘He was a lieutenant. It was described as trying to break each other. It was put down as how to resist pain and psychological torture. That’s how he (Barker) explained it to us.’

The youth added: ‘We had to put up with it. My job is to obey a senior officer. The unit wasn’t like a school, it was run on military lines.’

Asked about the sexual indignities that the boys were ordered to indulge in together, the youth said they were also ‘tests’ – ‘It was to break each other psychologically,’ he explained.

He told the court that Barker ‘invited’ the boys to invent tortures for each other

He described the terrible pain when Barker inserted a needle ‘right through his thumb’ and put artery clamps on his private parts.

But he said he accepted that what was happening was all part of his training in order for him and the others to ‘achieve a reputation for endurance.’

Barker’s reign of terror was brought to a halt when he was caught in the act of molesting one of the young cadets by a fellow officer.

Judge Richard Lowry was told Barker, from Queens Head Street, Islington, N. London had devoted all his spare time and salary to helping young people. Passing setence he told him: ‘Those young cadets did what they did because they were obeying the orders of an officer.’

‘You were in a position of trust. The victims were young boys aspiring to make progress in their lives.

‘A further grave feature is the infliction of pain. They were ordered on occasions to submit to pain from blows. They had to submit to ceremonies of pain

‘They were told they had to pass an initiation test of pain in order to advance to higher levels of instruction. ‘The case also illustrates how a victim feels a sense of guilt. There is also a fear of possible exposure to criticism or contempt and he doesn’t know if he will be believed.

After jailing Barker the judge praised the courage of the victims for coming forward. He said the boys who had given evidence had done so with ‘courage, balance and fairness and each should feel able to continue his life with his head held high.’

The judge added: ‘I hope they will be able gradually to put these events in the past.’

Barker employed as an unqualified PE teacher at a school in Hackney pleaded guilty to eight charges of indecent assault between September 1988 and December 1990. His not guilty pleas to 10 other charges were accepted.

Nine of those were ordered to be left on the court file, while a not guilty verdict was entered on the tenth. That involved an assault on a boy who was so distressed he had refused to come to court to give evidence.

Barker’s rank of Lieutenant was an honourary one, he has never been in the Royal Navy