July 2017

Worker at children’s home in Skipton jailed for 19 years for catalogue of sexual abuse

A JUDGE has praised the bravery of a group of sexual abuse victims after their evidence led to a former carer at a children’s home being jailed for 19 years.

Stuart Thornton, 65, who is now registered blind and walks with the aid of a white stick, took advantage of his position as a care worker at the home in Skipton to carry out the shocking abuse of three boys and a girl in the 1970s.

As he passed an extended sentence on Thornton today Judge Neil Davey QC spoke directly to the complainants who were in court for the hearing and commended them for coming forward.

“It is a brave thing to do for victims in their circumstances to come forward at all. And then having come forward to put themselves to public scrutiny in a public court and give their account in circumstances which are never easy,” said the judge.

He added that it was only because of people like them that offenders like Thornton received their just desserts and he hoped they would now reach a degree of “closure and peace”.

Thornton, of Spring Gardens, Cowling, near Keighley, was found guilty following a trial at Bradford Crown Court of a series of sexual offences including indecent assaults, gross indecency with a child and buggery.

The court heard that Thornton still maintained that his accusers were telling lies and Judge Davey highlighted his “utter lack of remorse” and the fact that he had tried to paint himself as the victim during the case.

Judge Davey said he could not conclude that Thornton had deliberately sought work at the now closed children’s home in Carleton Road in order to commit sexual offences, but he decided that the defendant should still be considered a dangerous offender.

“Having obtained that employment you took advantage of it to commit serious sexual offences on regular basis against children who were in your care and defenceless against you,” the judge told Thornton.

“The breach of trust in those circumstances is extremely grave.”

Judge Davey said the victim impact statement of one of the male complainants made “harrowing reading” and the psychological impact had been severe on at least two of the men involved in the case.

Having decided that Thornton still posed a significant risk of serious offending Judge Davey imposed an extended prison sentence on him which means he will have to comply with an additional licence period of three years.

But the judge told him that he would not be considered for release from prison until his case was looked at by the Parole Board at the two-thirds stage.

Thornton will also be subject to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and he will have to tell the police where he is living, once released, under the terms of a lifetime sex offender registration requirement.

May 2017

Jury finds former carer guilty of sexual abuse at children’s home in Skipton

A carer from Cowling has been found guilty of sexually abusing youngsters at a home.

A jury at Bradford Crown Court found 65-year-old Stuart Thornton guilty of offences against three boys and a girl in the 1970s at a children’s home in Carleton Road, Skipton, which has since closed.

He was convicted after a two-week trial of six offences of indecent assault on a male person under 14; two of gross indecency with a child; two of indecent assault and one of buggery.

The jury found him not guilty, on the direction of Judge Neil Davey QC, of two counts of gross indecency with a child.

Judge Davey adjourned sentencing until July 7 and granted conditional bail to the defendant. Thornton was made subject of an interim Sexual Harm Prevention Order and ordered to sign the sexual offender register.

Thornton used his power and trusted position as a carer to commit appalling sex crimes against children over many years. In a home that should have been a place of comfort and safety, he subjected his vulnerable victims to horrific abuse and controlled them through fear and punishment.

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