July 2017

Pair found guilty of child abuse charges

A pensioner committed acts of sexual assault and cruelty on children as a younger man, a jury has found.

Kenneth Whiles, 71, was found to have indecently assaulted two boys, and carried out acts of child cruelty against two boys and one girl, in eight charges.

His wife Peggy Whiles, 69, was found guilty of three charges of child cruelty against two boys.

These 11 offences were committed against four victims decades ago.

The couple denied wrongdoing and were cleared of 15 other charges following a trial at Teesside Crown Court on Thursday.

The jury reached its decisions following 15-and-a-half hours’ consideration, spread across four days after the three-week trial

Days into the trial, Mr Whiles was diagnosed with moderate severity Alzheimer’s disease and he was deemed unfit to stand trial.

The jury found he “did the acts charged against him” in eight counts – two of indecent assault, six of child cruelty – and cleared him on 13 other charges involving two complainants.

He was acquitted of seven counts of indecent assault and four of indecency with a child involving two boys, one of child cruelty, and one of assault causing actual bodily harm.

The jury could not reach a verdict on one count against Mr Whiles of indecent assault on a fifth complainant, the youngest boy.

The couple’s cruelty offences included children being hit, punched, beaten with a belt and subjected to humiliating mistreatment.

Mr Whiles sexually assaulted two boys. The court heard how one indecent assault profoundly affected a boy for the rest of his life, leaving him feeling “lost”.

Judge Howard Crowson adjourned sentencing until September 8 and bailed the couple, of Durham Road, Eston.

He said of Mr Whiles: “There are very limited things that can happen to him because of his condition.”

He said a hospital order had been ruled out by a psychiatrist and an absolute discharge was not deemed appropriate. The psychiatrist suggested a supervision order under the Mental Health Act.

He said prison was neither ruled out nor inevitable for Mrs Whiles, who is in a wheelchair.

He told her: “You must understand there is a risk of prison.

“I cannot rule out that I have to think about a prison sentence for what you’ve been found guilty of.”

Some of the victims made complaints almost 20 years ago, but no criminal prosecutions came about as some withdrew their complaints.

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