Richard Francis Groome 7th August 2001 Court of Appeal

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.  National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups. Other useful sites are One in Four [C] and Havoca [D]. Useful post on triggers [E] from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.

Redaction Some reports have had victims names redacted and some assault details redacted. This is a difficult balance-  normally I would think that  I should not “censor” details but on consultation with various people I have taken the decision to redact. This is mainly to protect victims, their friends and relatives from unnecessary detail and to stop the gratification of those who seek salacious details. In addition to the obvious “victims redaction” I have thus “assault redacted”. It appears to make no large difference to the vital information for researchers that these documents contain. That information is mainly names of the perpetrators, past addresses, and the charges they faced – on which newspapers are pathetically inaccurate. If you think that the balance is not correct or that a particular redaction needs reconsideration, please say.

*R v Richard Francis Groome*

[2001] EWCA Crim 1955

No: 200004466/Z4

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

CRIMINAL DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice

The Strand

London WC2

Tuesday 7th August 2001
Before:

Lord Justice Latham

Mr Justice Buckley and

Mr Justice Wright

Regina
v.

Richard Francis Groome

Computer Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of Smith Bernal Reporting
Limited 190 Fleet Street, London EC4A 2AG Tel No: 020 7421 4040 Fax No: 020
7831 8838 (Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)

MR C WILSON-SMITH QC and MR H JENKINS appeared on behalf of the Appellant

MR P T HUGHES QC and MISS J SWALLOW appeared on behalf of the Crown

JUDGMENT

(As approved by the Court )

7th August 2001

1. LORD JUSTICE LATHAM : In 1996 enquiries began into allegations which
had emerged of sexual abuse in various children’s homes in North Wales and
in particular in Clywd Hall, as a result of what a number of the former
inmates had said. Between 1996 and August 1998 a substantial number of
young men who had been in Clywd Hall and other residential care
institutions were interviewed and statements were taken from them. The
result was the prosecution of this appellant, amongst others, and, as we
know, a long enquiry into the events in those homes which was conducted by
Sir Ronald Waterhouse.

2. This appellant was charged in August of 1998 with a number of offences
of indecent assault and buggery. He was ultimately tried at the Crown Court
at Chester on an indictment containing 24 counts in respect of eight
complainants. He was convicted of three counts of indecent assault. The
complainants were Child 1, Child 2 and Child 3 . The appellant was convicted of three
counts of buggery with Child 2. He was acquitted on the direction of the judge
at the close of the prosecution case of two counts of buggery with another
young man and he was acquitted by the jury of three counts of indecent
assault in relation to yet another young man. In respect of all the
remaining counts on the indictment the jury were unable to agree and were
discharged. The appellant was sentence to five years’ imprisonment for the
offences of indecent assault and eight years’ imprisonment for the offences
of buggery. Those sentences were to be served concurrently, making
therefore a total of eight years’ imprisonment.

3. He appeals to this court with leave of the single judge in relation to
the counts in the indictment charging him with offences against Child 1 and Child 2.
He was refused leave to appeal in relation to the offence against Child 3, but
he has renewed his application for leave to this court.

4. The appellant began his career in residential childcare in 1972 and
worked in, owned and managed care homes which cared for dysfunctional
children with emotional problems and special needs. Up until 1983 he was
the head of childcare at Clywd Hall. He then moved to Milverton Court in
Shropshire. It was alleged that the offences in relation to Child 1 and Child 2
occurred when he was working in Wales; in fact at Tan Llwyfan in relation
to Child 1 and then Clywd Hall as far as Child 2 was concerned.

5. When the offences occurred, according to Child 1, he was between the ages of
nine and 11. He described in evidence how on occasions the appellant would
[Assault redacted]. In evidence, he said he would [Assault redacted]. On some
occasions he would [assault redacted]. Child 1 said that he was
scared of what the appellant was doing and he would freeze. It happened
quite a few times and he did not say anything, he said, at the time because
he was scared.

6. In cross-examination he agreed that when he was first asked to give
information about how he had been treated when in residential care he had
made no allegations of sexual abuse against the appellant. In a statement
that he made for the purposes of the tribunal, although describing sexual
abuse by others, he said that as far as the appellant was concerned he
simply received physical abuse, namely being hit and kicked. He then gave a
statement to the police. He accepted that in that statement, although he
had then made allegations of sexual abuse, they were not in detail the same
as those that he gave in evidence. He agreed that he had said in the
statement that he had simply been  [assault redacted].

7. He was asked about when he had first made any complaint about the
matter. He said that he had told a social worker, Peter Rainer, when he was
15 or 16 years of age. The social worker was called by the defence to give
evidence. He asserted that Child 1 had never in fact complained of any sexual
abuse to him.

8. In cross-examination Child 1 further agreed that he had said that he had
been sexually abused by a Mr Barnes at a care home known as Park House.
When it was put to him that Mr Barnes, as was agreed by the prosecution,
had never worked at Park House, Child 1 persisted in his allegation.

9. The evidence of Child 2 related to a period between December 1982 and April
1984 when he was at Clywd Hall. He described in evidence how after a few
weeks when the appellant seemed, as he put it, “okay”, he was asked to go
to see the appellant in his office and take him a cup of tea. [assault redacted]

10. The next sexual incident which Child 2 described occurred shortly before a
school trip to Anglesey. Child 2 had apparently said that he did not want to go
on the trip; but the appellant said that he had to go. The appellant called
him into his office and told him that he would have to go on the trip. He
sat IL on his knee. [assault redacted]

11. It was during the trip to Anglesey, Child 2 said, that he was first
[Assault redacted]After the trip to Anglesey there were a number of further
occasions, which he said amounted to five or six in total, when the
appellant [Assault redacted]. One of those occasions occurred when the appellant
took Child 2 in his white Peugeot estate car from the home to a church yard; [assault redacted] took place in the church yard. All the others occurred
in the home, at night.

12. Child 2 further described occasions when he stayed at the appellant’s
house. He said that this happened in total about four or five times when
the appellant’s family was there. He described the wife and children, in
particular a dark haired daughter. He would sleep on a folding bed in a
downstairs room. On a number of occasions when everyone else had gone to
bed the appellant came downstairs,  [assault redacted]. On one occasion on which the
appellant was with Child 2, they were interrupted when the appellant’s daughter
came in. The appellant then pretended that he had come to say goodnight,
kissed him and left.

13. In cross-examination it was put to Child 2 that the appellant was never on
night duty in the residential home and therefore could never have carried
out any of the acts of buggery which had been described as occurring in the
home because he had described them all as having occurred at night. In
particular there was one occasion according to Child 2 when he had left the
appellant’s room in the early hours and had been seen by another member of
staff returning to his
dormitory; that was a Mr Branchflower.

14. Child 2 said in his evidence that the appellant certainly had been there at
night, although he agreed that it was rare. He persisted in his assertions
that he had indeed been [assault redacted] in the way that he
described. He accepted that in the statement that he had made to the police
he had said that [assault redacted] had occurred on 20 occasions, but he had only been
able to describe five or six. He insisted that he had indeed stayed at the
house of the appellant, although it was suggested that that may only have
been on the occasion when there had been a fire at the residential home. He
denied that and said that his account was correct.

15. The evidence of Mr Branchflower, which was relied on by the
prosecution to support the incident which Child 2  had described in the early
hours of the morning, was to the effect that on one occasion when he was
sleeping, he woke up, having heard a noise, and found Child 2 in the corridor.
He was wearing pyjamas and looked as though he had been sleep walking.

16. In cross-examination Mr Branchflower accepted that if he was on duty
the appellant could not have been on duty that night. The routine was that
a male and a female member of staff would be on duty each night, and as he
was the male member of staff on duty the night in question it was clear
that the appellant himself could not have been sleeping there. Further, he
said, again in cross-examination, that he did not think that the appellant
had in fact been sleeping at the home at any time during the relevant
period.

17. The evidence in relation to SM was that SM went to Milverton Court in
January 1985 when he was 12 years old and reminded there for a year. He
described how the appellant controlled the clothing allowance and would buy
and distribute clothes to the children in care.

18. He described occasions on which the appellant asked him to come into
the office in order to collect some new clothes. On the first occasion he
went to the office the appellant locked the door, told him to take off his
trousers and underpants and try on some new jeans.  Child 3[Assault redacted]. Child 3  Child 3
described how a similar pattern of events occurred on about five or six
further occasions.

19. The appellant gave evidence and denied that he had interfered sexually
with any of the complainants in the trial, or indeed with any of the
children who had been in his care. He agreed that he knew and indeed had
been the carer in respect of the three young men with whom we are concerned
today, but that on no occasion had he indecently assaulted them and in
particular on no occasion had he [Assault redacted] Child 2.

20. As far as Child 2 was concerned, he described how he himself would never
have been at the home at night, or overnight, during the relevant period,
as Mr Branchflower had agreed. He further said, and this was accepted by
the prosecution, that he had suffered a fracture to his ankle on 30th
August 1983. He had been to casualty in the first instance and then on 10th
September, after a further visit to casualty, the ankle had been put in
plaster. After the injury to his ankle he was rarely at the care home at
all.

21. He agreed that there had been a trip to Anglesey in the summer of 1993
at which Child 2 had been present. But it was clear that neither Child 2 nor the
appellant were able to place any
date on that trip, save to say that it was in the summer. No other evidence
was called which could elucidate precisely when that trip had taken place.

22. A number of supporting witnesses were called on behalf of the
appellant, testifying to the caring way in which the appellant behaved
towards the children in his care, but in particular stressing his
professionalism. His wife also gave evidence to the effect that she and the
appellant were happily married with a happy family. It was against the
background of that evidence that the jury convicted the appellant of the
offences which we have identified.

23. The appellant’s appeal against conviction in relation to the offences
concerning Child 1 is based on two grounds. First, it is submitted that the
quality of the evidence of Child 1 was such that the judge should not have
allowed the case to go to the jury. In other words, this was a case in
which the judge should either have concluded that a jury properly directed
could not convict, or alternatively that his evidence was such that it
would be unsafe to permit the matter to go to the jury on the basis that
the evidence was not such as to found a safe conviction. The second ground
upon which it is submitted that the conviction in respect of Child 1 is unsafe
is that the judge in his summing-up identified as similar fact evidence
evidence which was not capable of amounting to similar fact and indeed was
based upon a misunderstanding of the facts.

24. Dealing with first ground. The basis of the submission is that in the
statement that Child 1 made to the tribunal he made no mention of any sexual
abuse by the appellant. He only mentioned physical abuse as we have already
related. However when he made his statement to the police for the purposes
of the prosecution, although he then described sexual abuse he did so in
terms which were significantly different from the terms of the evidence
that he in fact gave. We have already indicated in relating the way in
which the evidence emerged what those differences were. Finally, it is
submitted that Child 1’s persistence in asserting that Mr Barnes had subjected
him to sexual abuse at Park Hall, when it was accepted by the prosecution
that that was not possible, further undermined his credibility.

25. Accordingly, it is submitted on behalf of the appellant, those
discrepancies in the evidence were such as to mean that the evidence of Child 1
could not properly be relied upon by a jury to found a conviction and there
was no other evidence upon which the jury could convicted. Accordingly, the
judge should have acceded to the submission that the count of indecent
assault involving him should in fact be withdrawn from the jury.

26. This particular type of case gives rise to great difficulties both for
judges and for juries. It is a common feature that the evidence which is
usually given many years after the event, is riddled with inconsistencies
of one sort or another. It is a common feature also, as in this case, that
the witnesses may because of their traumatic backgrounds carry with them
baggage which makes it difficult for them to be able to give in the first
instance accounts which are full and consistent. That, of course, does not
mean that in every case, whatever may have been said by a young man in this
type of position in the past, so long as there is some assertion amounting
to an assertion of an offence, the matter must go before a jury.
Nonetheless, if the evidence at trial is itself consistent and coherent,
then it seems to us that the question of whether or not that evidence may
be inconsistent with what the witness has said before is a matter which a
jury is capable of resolving. It is for a judge, in the light of not only
the content of the evidence but the way in it has been given, to determine
whether or not it is evidence which it is safe to allow to go before a jury.

27. It follows in this case that we reject the submission that the judge
should have removed the case from the jury. It may or may not be that that
would have been the way that
every judge would have approached the case; but the judge had material
available to him which entitled him, in our judgment, to conclude that the
essential question of credibility which was raised by the inconsistencies
was a matter which could and should be resolved by the jury.

28. The second ground relating to the similar fact evidence which was put
before the jury has caused this court some anxiety. The position was this.
At the end of the evidence, and before counsel addressed the jury,
prosecution counsel sensibly sought a ruling from the judge as to the
extent to which there was available to the prosecution similar fact
evidence which could be relied upon as support for what were otherwise, it
was accepted, entirely uncorroborated assertions by the various young men
in question. A schedule was put before the judge in which prosecuting
counsel sought to set out what were capable of amounting to similar facts,
not merely in relation to the young men with whom we are concerned but also
the other alleged victims.

29. As far as Child 1  and Child 2 were concerned, the prosecution sought to persuade
the judge that there was a similarity in what was described in the schedule
of similar fact as “hand under bed clothing”. That was not further
particularised, save that it would appear that whatever may have been in
the mind of Mr Hughes, the then prosecuting counsel, both the judge and Mr
Wilson-Smith, on behalf of the appellant, assumed that that referred to
placing a hand under the bed clothing in the dormitory at night, which of
course was the essential complaint made by Child 1. Mr Wilson-Smith had not been
given the schedule until the beginning of the submissions; and when he made
his response he said in relation to this particular suggested similarity:

“I am a little hesitant about Child 2 under the bedcovers but I am assuming that
those are correct.”

30. When the judge came to give his ruling he sensibly reminded himself
that there are patterns of behaviour involved in cases of indecency which
do not have any, as it might be called, fingerprint which enables one to
say that that behaviour is behaviour which identifies the particular
defendant as the person responsible for it. What he then said was:

“So, bearing that approach in mind, I do not propose to indicate to the
jury that they ought to find persuasive similarities in the kissing on the
lips nor in respect of the finger in the bottom. I do, however, intend to
direct the jury, matter for them, that the hand under the bedclothing, same
approach in the dormitory late at night, might amount to such similarity.”

31. There is no doubt that the judge assumed that there was evidence of an
approach by the appellant in the dormitory late at night involving him
[assault redacted] of both Child 1 and Child 2. As will have been
appreciated from our statement of the evidence, that was certainly the case
as far as Child 1 as concerned, but there was no evidence that the appellant
had done that to Child 2. It is submitted now on behalf of the prosecution that
what Mr Hughes must have had in mind was the evidence in relation to what
happened in the appellant’s home in Colwyn Bay and, it is submitted, that
that would indeed have justified the judge in concluding that the two types
of incident were in fact sufficiently similar to be placed before the jury
as amounting to similar facts for the purposes of providing some support,
one for the other.

32. Whatever may have been the intention of Mr Hughes we are, as we have
already said, entirely satisfied that the judge did not so understand it.
But the matter goes further than that, because if one re-reads what the
judge said in his ruling it seems to us that he would not
have concluded that those two types of incident would have amounted to
similar fact evidence in the light of the way he was expressing his
reasoning.

33. Having so ruled, and not having been disabused by either counsel at
that stage as to the fact that the evidence of Child 2 did not relate to any
such behaviour in the dormitory, the judge dealt with the matter in his
summing-up, as presaged in his ruling, by directing the jury that there was
similar in fact in the way described. When dealing with this aspect of the
case the judge impeccably directed the jury as to how to approach the
evidence of the various complainants, by requiring them to consider with
care whether or not there was any possibility of the collusion. He then
went on at page 6 letter D:

“Now let me deal with a different matter. It is this: are you entitled,
when you consider the allegation made by one complainant, to look for
support in the allegations similarly made by other complainants? The answer
to the question is yes, subject to these very clear and important
restrictions. If you are considering one complainant and find that there
are similarities in the evidence of another complainant, ask yourselves
firstly, are you sure there has been no collusion between them, for obvious
reasons. If there are similarities and there has been collusion then it is
no more than you would expect.

The second matter you have got to be sure about is this, are you sure that
the similarities are not explicable upon the basis of coincidence. In other
words, a matter of common sense, you ask yourselves are we sure that these
similarities might not just result from some sort of coincidence. The way
the lawyers put it is this: if you are sure that the similarities could not
be explained by coincidence because that would be an affront to common
sense, then you can go on to take those similarities into account.

Now, in this case, do not think because there are many allegations of
indecent assault by several young men, those constitute similarities which
you can put the one to the other in order to reach a conviction. Do not do
that because all that is happening here is similar allegations are being
tried together.

My direction to you is this: there are really only four aspects in which
there are such similarities which you might consider and take into account,
provided you are sure there was no collusion and coincidence can be
rejected, and those four bits of evidence are these. Firstly, Child 1 in Tern
Twiver, Child 2 in Clwyd Hall, both say that the offences against them took
place when they were in their beds at night and Mr Groome would come in [assault redacted]. If you came to the
conclusion that you are sure about their evidence, no collusion, cannot be
explained by coincidence, then you could, when considering one, find
support in the other. That is the best example.”

34. This passage underlines what we have already indicated, namely that
the judge was clearly at that time under the impression that what he was
putting to the jury as similar fact was the placing of hands under the
bedclothes in the dormitories and not behaviour at the appellant’s home. In
other words, he was directing the jury that if they came to the conclusion
that there was such evidence and that they were satisfied that such events
had taken place, then that
could be treated as similar fact evidence. It is unfortunate that neither
counsel at that stage identified the mistake under which the judge was
labouring.

35. Having dealt with other similar fact matters relating to complainants
with whom we are not concerned, the judge, however, went on as follows at
page 8 letter D:

“You may conclude that there is nothing to be attached to those
similarities; you might conclude that in fact you do not accept what one or
more of them says anyway and, in the end, whatever you decide upon your
approach to those similarities, this case, in the end it comes down to what
you make of the individual complainants, does it not. So whatever help you
may get from similarities, in the end, it is a matter for you, but you may
think this case is going to come down to whether the complainant you are
considering in your judgment is being truthful and accurate in making the
allegation that the Crown ask you to consider.”

36. From what we have said it is apparent that we consider that the judge
undoubtedly misdirected the jury in this part of his summing-up. However,
it is to be noted that the judge made it plain that it was only if they
found the underlying facts established that they could conclude that the
evidence was such as to justify the one piece of evidence supporting the
other. It is further quite plain that the jury in relation to other
complainants did not consider that the similar facts were sufficient to
justify concluding, so that they were satisfied so that they were sure,
that the incidents in relation to them had occurred. Finally, it is quite
apparent that the judge was directing the jury that at the end of the day
the real question for each member of the jury was what he or she made of
the complainant in question.

37. We have considered with anxiety the extent to which this misdirection
was one which could have misled the jury so as to affect the safety of
these convictions. We have come to the clear conclusion that the jury could
not have in fact been in any way affected by this misdirection so as to
have produced an unsafe verdict. We are satisfied that the jury must,
taking the summing-up as a whole, have come to its conclusion on the basis
of the evidence in relation to the particular complainant himself and not
been infected in any way by the judge’s mistake. It is important to
reiterate that the direction required the jury to come to a factual
conclusion in relation to each complainant before it could use either piece
of evidence against the other. The jury would have appreciated, looking at
the evidence of Child 2, that no incident occurred according to him such as
would be similar to the incidents involving Child 1.

38. Turning then to the ground which relates specifically to Child 2. The first
submission that is made is that the judge failed properly to deal with the
fact that there were inconsistencies in Child 2’s evidence. There was a clear
inconsistency, to which we have already referred when relating the
evidence, namely that IL said in his statement that he had been[assault redacted], whereas in his evidence he only identified five or six
occasions upon [assault redacted]. The judge dealt with that discrepancy
expressly in the summing-up. It does not seem to us that there is any
complaint to be made about that aspect of the case.

39. However, what is said on behalf of the appellant is that the judge
failed in his summing-up to say anything to the jury about inconsistencies
arising from the interview which Child 2 had with the police before he made the
statement. That interview was with a PC Jones and PC Jones made a
handwritten note of the gist of what was being said by the Child 2.

40. What is complained of on behalf of the appellant is that in that note
of
interview Child 2 apparently said at the very beginning of the interview that
the appellant did not touch his genitals and that at the end of the
interview he apparently said that the appellant never tried to masturbate
him in the house. That clearly relates to the appellant’s home because it
is in the context of the appellant being nervous because the family were
there. It is also said that in that interview Child 2 said that he had only
spent one night at Colwyn Bay, whereas his evidence was to the effect that
he had spent many more nights there.

41. Those, it is submitted, are inconsistencies which were put to the
witness, Child 2, in cross-examination, but were not the subject of any comment
by the judge in his summing-up. It is submitted that in a case such as this
one of the few touchstones which a jury can have for determining the
reliability and truthfulness of witnesses is the extent to which their
accounts have been consistent over the months or the years. Accordingly, it
is submitted that his failure to identify these inconsistencies renders the
conviction unsafe.

42. We have been taken to the cross-examination of Child 2 in order to see
exactly how the issue arose and was dealt with in evidence. It becomes
quite apparent that there can be no criticism of the judge’s failure, as it
is submitted, to deal with this aspect of the matter. It was simply put to
Child 2 that he had said, for example, “didn’t touch genitals”, which it was
suggested was therefore contrary to the evidence that he had been giving.
Child 2 himself said that he did not remember saying that, and when pressed
eventually said if that is what had been in his statement then he must have
said it, or words to that effect.

43. What was being put to Child 2 were the handwritten notes of a police
officer who was not called to give evidence. They did not constitute a
document which was the subject of either agreement or proof. Accordingly in
strict evidential law the only evidence was the answer given by the
witness. It was quite apparent, because it was never made clear to Child 2, that
he thought that he was being asked about material in the statement which he
had signed. It was in that context that he answered in the way that he did.

44. It seems to us that it follows that there was in fact no inconsistent
statement in evidence before the jury which arose out of that interview. It
follows that there was no inconsistency which the judge was under any
obligation to draw to the attention of the jury. Accordingly that ground of
appeal fails.

45. The next ground of appeal is based upon the judge’s failure, it is
said, adequately to direct the jury as to the evidence that the appellant
was not at the residential home at night. It is submitted that on a fair
reading of the evidence the judge should have expressly directed the jury
that the appellant was not there at night and that that was a matter which
was relevant when evaluating the evidence of Child 2 as to the assaults and
buggery that took place. Child 2 himself, it is clear, in his evidence in
cross-examination accepted that the appellant was rarely at the home.
Further, as we have already said, Mr Branchflower in his evidence said that
the appellant was not there at night.

46. The judge did not deal with the subject as a discrete subject. He
undoubtedly said, when relating the evidence of Child 2, that Child 2 had stated that
the appellant did do night duty and that the appellant used to sleep over.
As we have indicated, that was not an entirely accurate statement of the
evidence because of Child 2’s admission that the appellant was there rarely.

47. However, the judge did deal with the evidence of Mr Branchflower and
dealt with it accurately and fully in this respect. The way he summed the
matter up to the jury was
as follows at page 35 letter G:

“When he was cross-examined, Mr Branchflower said that two members of staff
would sleep in, there were two bedrooms available to him. “Mr Groome lived
in Colwyn Bay and I never saw him on the premises at night. He did not do
sleep over duties’.”

48. There is no doubt that in dealing with this particular issue the judge
did not provide the jury with a full account of all the material and
evidence which was available to assist them.

49. However, it has to be remembered that the jury had not only listened
to evidence over a significant period of time, but had had the benefit of
the speeches of counsel, and in particular the speech of Mr Wilson-Smith on
behalf of this appellant, immediately before the summing-up. It is
noteworthy that the judge clearly considered that the analysis of the
evidence by Mr Wilson-Smith was an analysis which the jury should bear well
in mind. He said at the very beginning of his summing-up:

“In addition, my second task is to summarise the evidence in order to
assist you. I warn you of this though. It will be a summary. I will not
cover each and every piece of evidence. You have had the benefit during
yesterday and for a short time this morning of hearing Mr Wilson-Smith. He
has gone through the evidence very thoroughly and very helpfully.”

50. In those circumstances we cannot believe that the jury was under any
misapprehension about the state of the evidence in relation to what might
be called the night duty point. Accordingly, although we see that there is
the possible criticism that we have alluded to, we do not consider that
that ground in any way undermines the safety of the conviction.

51. The final ground of appeal upon which the appellant relies is that the
judge failed properly to deal with what was said to be a central argument
of the appellant. The argument was this. On a proper analysis of the
evidence Child 2 was stating that abuse commenced shortly before the trip to
Anglesey and continued thereafter to the extent that he described it. It is
submitted that the Anglesey trip was described as having been in the summer
and accordingly must have been in the summer holidays, that is in either
July or August. As the appellant broke his ankle on 30th August, and was
from 10th September, at least for a time, in plaster, and there is no
suggestion in the evidence that he in any way abused Child 2 when he was in that
condition, there simply was not sufficient time for the account of Child 2 to be
accurate and truthful. The account that he gave suggested abuse over a
significant period and such a period was simply, in the submission of the
appellant, not available.

52. The problem in relation to that submission is that the trip to
Anglesey was never in fact securely dated. Indeed there is no more material
to help us than the assertion that it took place in the summer. Whilst we
could see that if there were clear constraints of date which could properly
be identified that would amount to material which the judge should have put
before the jury. But bearing in mind the fact that the submission in
relation to time must have been made forcefully by Mr Wilson-Smith, it does
not seem to us that the argument was of such cogency that it required the
judge to underline it by setting it out in detail in his summing-up.

53. The position is that as far as this court can see there was ample time
for the
abuse described by Child 2 to have occurred. The description that he gave in the
first instance was that the abuse commenced within weeks of his arrival,
that is in December of 1982. It is correct that he thereafter put it closer
to the Anglesey trip, but he certainly identified abuse as having taken
place before the Anglesey trip. Indeed, the incident involving the use of
cream occurred immediately before the Anglesey trip. If one then considers
the evidence as to the [assault redacted], which were charged as having been in
number only five to six, we do not see that the timings, which Mr
Wilson-Smith submits are of such critical importance, can in fact have been
considered by the jury to have been so. There was ample time for the events
which Child 2 described to have taken place during the period that he described
even if the appellant was no longer in a position to abuse him after the
end of August.

54. At the end of the day there is no doubt, it seems to us, that the jury
must have been affected significantly by the very circumstantial nature of
the evidence given by Child 2, in particular in relation to the visits to the
appellant’s home, and the description of the incident in the church yard;
and with that material the jury had quite sufficient, it seems to us, to
enable them to come to the conclusion that Child 2 was telling them the truth.
Accordingly, we do not consider that any of the matters that have been the
subject of criticism by Mr Wilson-Smith before us today justify the
conclusion that the verdict of the jury was in any way unsafe. Accordingly,
in relation to the appeal, we dismiss it.

55. As far as the application for leave to appeal is concerned, that
application effectively depends upon the conclusion that we have reached in
relation to the complainants Child 1 and Child 2. There is no basis intrinsically for
criticising the verdict in relation to Child 3, and indeed Mr Wilson-Smith
realistically did not seek to do so. His argument was based upon the
proposition that if the verdicts in relation to the other two complainants
were unsafe we should consider that the verdict in relation to Child 3 was
likewise unsafe. For the reasons we have given, we do not consider the
other verdicts to be unsafe. We do not therefore consider that there is any
basis on which leave can be granted to appeal the count in respect of Child 3.
Accordingly, the application is refused.

56. Are there any matters we need to deal with?

MR HUGHES: My Lord, there is an appeal against sentence.

LORD JUSTICE LATHAM : As I understood it, Mr Wilson-Smith, that depended
upon the outcome — the permutation, so to speak, of outcomes that might
have arisen in relation to the conviction.

MR WILSON-SMITH: Your Lordship is exactly right. We would have submitted
that the sentence for the indecent assault was too high on any basis, but
it is academic.

LORD JUSTICE LATHAM : I can readily understand that submission, Mr
Wilson-Smith.

Accordingly, so far as the appeal against sentence is concerned, it is
formally before us, we should simply say that it is not being pursued in
the light of our decision on conviction and accordingly is dismissed.

It hardly needs for me to say that up until now the reports have in fact
had Child 1, Child 2 and Child 3 as initials, have they or not?

MR HUGHES: There has been no reporting at all of their names.

MR JUSTICE WRIGHT : There has been a restriction order in force from the
outset.

LORD JUSTICE LATHAM : I believe there has been. Therefore there ought to be
a continuation of that until such time as any application is made to
discharge it.

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.  National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups. Other useful sites are One in Four [C] and Havoca [D]. Useful post on triggers [E] from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.

[A] Sanctuary for the Abused http://abusesanctuary.blogspot.co.uk/2006/07/for-survivors-coping-with-triggers-if.html

[B] NAPAC http://www.napac.org.uk/

[C] One in Four http://www.oneinfour.org.uk/

[D] Havoca http://www.havoca.org/HAVOCA_home.htm

[E] SurvivorsJustice Triggers post http://survivorsjustice.com/2014/02/26/triggers-what-are-they-and-how-do-we-work-through-them/

[F] SurvivorsJustice Blog http://survivorsjustice.com/

This is all written in good faith but if there is anything that needs to be corrected please email cathyfox@bigfoot.com

cathyfox the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free

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About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
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One Response to Richard Francis Groome 7th August 2001 Court of Appeal

  1. Pingback: Timeline of Court and Court of Appeal Documentation on Cathy Fox blog | cathyfox blog

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