The last four people who were part of a 21-person child sex abuse ring have now been put behind bars.
The ‘depraved’ case, which has been the largest sexual abuse investigation ever conducted in the West Midlands, has seen three trials take place over 18 months.
Now, Operation Satchel has finally been wrapped up, with Matthew Evans, 32, Violet and John Griffiths, both 66, and Natasha Webb, 37, handed their sentences on Friday.
They were members of a group of adults who subjected seven victims under the age of 13 to ‘prolonged and sustained’ abuse in the Walsall and Wolverhampton areas, leaving them ‘terribly psychologically damaged’.
Judge Simon Ward said the majority of those who had been convicted ‘cared nothing for the general rules of society or the laws that make it a crime to have sex with children’.
He added: ‘You used children as sexual objects for your own pleasure. The result of what you did has left the victims traumatised and seriously harmed emotionally. They came to believe sex with adults was normal.’
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how one of the victims had suffered psychotic episodes, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and had tried to take their own life at one point. Judge Ward said it would take ‘many years’ for one victim to live a normal life.
During sentencing, the judge acknowledged that Evans was ‘significantly younger’ when he carried out the abuse, although still an adult, and that he had not reoffended and was now married.
But he described Evans’ crimes as ‘terrible’ and added: ‘It is clear to me you do have a sexual interest in children.’
Evans was given a 17-and-a-half-year sentence, which he must serve at least two-thirds of, and a 12-month extended licence period after that.
He was also made subject to a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) for 30 years and an indefinite restraining order.
John Griffiths was handed the exact same sentence, with the same conditions, except his SHPO was set for 20 years.
Violet Griffiths was issued with a 15-year sentence, a 20-year SHPO and an indefinite restraining order.
Judge Ward acknowledged that neither had any previous convictions, that character references spoke highly of them and that the offences happened more than 10 years ago.
But he said he believed the pair had a sexual interest in children, although they both denied it.
Webb was the only defendant to plead guilty to multiple child sex abuse offences and she gave evidence for the prosecution in three criminal trials.
She had a separate hearing to the other three, which heard that she had a learning disability and was ‘easily manipulated and influenced by those who are more able’.
Webb was handed a nine-year sentence, with six to be served behind bars and three on licence, an indefinite restraining order and an indefinite SHPO.
After sentencing, crown prosecutor for the CPS Joanne Jakymec said: ‘The 21 offenders convicted in Operation Satchel perpetrated the most abhorrent catalogue of systematic sexual abuse on seven children.
‘The scale, depravity and deeply disturbing nature of which is unlike anything I have seen during my time working for the CPS and has shocked everyone who has been involved in bringing them to justice.
‘The cruel abuse which they inflicted on the victims for years has caused them physical and extreme psychological harm, leaving them traumatised.’
She went on to praise and thank the victims and witnesses ‘for their bravery in coming forward and giving evidence’.
‘It is their courage which enabled us to bring this case to court and see justice served,’ she added.
The sex ring first came to light after one of the victims was admitted to hospital with a suspicious injury in 2014 and doctors made a safeguarding referral.
Three years later, another child told a carer about what had happened to them and the police investigation was launched, which continued for six years.
Some 17 people have now been given jail sentences and four have received non-custodial terms.
The others who were convicted in the first two trials are:
- James Evans, 38, was jailed for life with a minimum of 18 years and given an indefinite SHPO for 20 child sex offences.
- Kirsty Webb, 36, was jailed for 10 years, given an indefinite restraining order and a 30-year SHPO for five child sex offences.
- Mark Smith, 34, was jailed for 19 years with an extended licence period of six years, making a total of 25 years, for four child sex offences. He was also handed an SHPO for 30 years and an indefinite restraining order.
- Pamela Howells, 58, was jailed for seven years for three child sex offences and was handed an SHPO for 15 years and an indefinite restraining order.
- Lee Webb, 40, was found guilty of three child sex offences and was jailed for six years with a 30-year SHPO and an indefinite restraining order.
- Ann Marie Clare, 43, was jailed for eight years for four child sex offences, with an extended licence period of three years for 11 years in total. She was also handed an SHPO for 30 years and an indefinite restraining order.
- Dean Webb, 35, was found not fit to plead but a jury decided he had committed the acts alleged. He was given a two-year supervision order and a 40-year SHPO.
- Stephen Webb, 65, was also found not fit to plead but the jury decided he had committed the acts alleged. He was given an absolute discharge for health reasons.
- Tracey Baker, 41, was found guilty of five child sex abuse offences and sentenced to 16 years in prison and given an SHPO and a restraining order, both until further notice.
- David Baker, 41, was found guilty of seven child sex offences and sentenced to 21 years imprisonment including a year on licence, as well as an indefinite SHPO and an indefinite restraining order.
- Luke Baker, 22, was jailed for two years and four months for two child sex offences and was handed a restraining order until further notice and a 15-year SHPO.
- David Evans, 72, was jailed for three and a half years for two offences and given indefinite restraining and SHPO orders.
- Jane Evans, 71, was found unfit to plead but a jury decided she committed the acts alleged. She was sentenced to a supervision order and an SHPO.
- Philip Wellington, 50, was found guilty of three child sex offences and hailed for nine years and given an SHPO and a restraining order, both to last until further order.
- Natalie Wellington, 44, was convicted of four child sex offences and jailed for 17 years including an extra year on extended licence, alongside an indefinite restraining order and indefinite SHPO.
- Jason Evans, 25, was found guilty of three offences and sentenced to two years and six months, a restraining order until further notice and a 15-year SHPO.
- Ryan Evans, 23, was found guilty of one child sex offence and sentenced to a three-year community order, a restraining order and a 15-year SHPO.
Source: | UK News | Metro News