December 2017: Burnett died in hospital with prison officers by his bedside.

Burnett was a prisoner at Garth Prison, Leyland, in the sex offenders unit when he was taken ill. He was taken to Chorley Hospital where he died over the weekend after developing breathing problems.

November 2015

Paedophile jailed after more than 2,000 sex attacks on children as young as 4-years-old

HOW

A Pervert businessman is likely to die in prison after being jailed for more than 2,000 sex attacks on children

Harold Burnett, 81, was jailed for 12 years after being convicted of a sickening reign of abuse against three children who were aged between just four and 10-years-old.

During a trial at Preston Crown Court, Burnett’s victims spoke of the terror and disgust they felt during and in the decades following their abuse at two houses in Lytham.

One woman recalled being haunted by monsters she saw in the floral patterns of her bedroom curtains.

Another man turned to a psychiatrist to help him come to terms with his harrowing past and as an adult, one of Burnett’s victims was so afraid of repeating the abuse he suffered that he avoided being alone with his own children or their friends.

But despite being convicted of 18 sexual offences against the youngsters, Burnett – who owns a number of successful caravan parks across the Fylde coast – still maintains he is innocent.

Judge Robert Altham, sentencing, said: “There is no remorse from you.”

During the trial the court heard Burnett, of Lytham Road, Moss Side, repeatedly attacked the children at houses in Lytham.

Judge Altham said: “You abused these children without humility, pity or compassion.

“It seems at work you are a driven man. You applied that drive to what can only be described as the ruthless and persistent abuse of these children.

“In the course of doing that you systematically shattered their lives without so much as a backwards glance for what must only have been your warped need for sexual gratification.

“You committed something like 2,000 sexual offences in relation to these children.”

Despite being convicted of 18 specimen counts reflecting almost a decade of abuse, the businessman still maintains he is innocent.

Judge Altham said: “It is a further tragedy that you do not have the courage to admit what you have done.

“Those courageous survivors of your abuse had to go through a trial which must have been a particularly bruising experience for them and I have absolutely no doubt that the trial came at a further real price to them.

“It must have been akin to being in your thrall again as they were all those years ago. I salute their courage and contrast it against you.”

Lisa Worsley, prosecuting, read a statement from one of the victims in which he described feeling dirty, despite the passage of several decades.

She said: “The abuse has had a very negative impact on him. He was concerned that because he had been abused he would become an abuser which affected the way he behaved around his daughters and their friends, never putting himself in a position where he was alone with them. He turned into someone without emotion.

“The other man says every area of his life has been affected. As a child he lived in daily fear and shock as he had no idea why it was happening or when it would happen again.”

Judge Altham said: “It is said you are a man of previous good character. You have done much good in your life by being extraordinarily hard-working, by setting up a business and providing employment for no doubt dozens of people for years and providing services for your customers.”

But the judge said in passing sentence he was bound by the sentencing powers from the time the offences were committed, adding: “Had these sentences been committed in modern times the maximum sentences would be far higher and the sentences you would have received would be longer.”

September 2015

FINALLY victims see abuser found guilty

Harold Burnett,

An elderly man has been found guilty of child sexual abuse dating back more than four decades.

Harold Burnett, 81, had claimed the allegations were made up by his victims in a bid to get his money.

But a jury at Preston Crown Court yesterday returned guilty verdicts to all but one of the charges against him.

During the nine-day trial, two men and a woman – all now in their 50s and 60s – told of their abuse at the hands of Burnett, of Lytham Road, Lytham.

The court heard they were sexually assaulted at a small terraced house in south Fylde.

One of the victims told how his life was made “horrible” by the crimes.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said Burnett was a strong man with a “vile temper” – but the abuse stopped when he was 12 and physically resisted.

He added: “He was kind to me but there was an element of menace about it as I knew there was something wrong about it.

“I knew I couldn’t tell anybody.”

The court also heard from a woman who said she stayed silent for decades about her suffering. She described her abuser as “controlling” and “a bully”.

He targeted her on a regular basis over a number of years, the court heard.

Burnett denied six charges of gross indecency with a child, four charges of indecent assault on a female and nine charges of indecent assault on a male child.

His defence claimed the allegations were made up against him because the victims were after his money.

Burnett, a former business man, was described in court as “wealthy”.

The jury was told he believed the victims had “colluded together… for financial reward”.

However, the jury yesterday returned a string of guilty verdicts.

Burnett was found not guilty on one count of indecent assault on a female.

He will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on November 2.