Barrie Owen Alden, John Robert Stafford Wright, Court of Appeal 15th February 2001

Barrie Owen Alden and John Robert Stafford Wright were both masters at Ty Mawr Approved School, Barrie Alden for many years and becoming Deputy Principal, with Wright 3 years at Ty Mawr. Alden was convicted of 10 counts of child sex abuse on 6 boys and Wright of 6 counts of child sexual abuse on 4 boys.

There was report in 1992 partly about physical and emotional abuse and the number of suicide attempts at Ty Mawr Community Home Inquiry Report 1992: Gareth Williams QC John McCreadie M.Ed [3]

These two documents need to be studied and conclusions drawn.   More in future.

This case is also interesting as it is mentioned in another case as a precedent,  [I think it was Goad] and itself contains mentions of various precedent cases, which I hopefully will come back to sometime soonish] More on this in future. There was also a Times Law Report about this case  [4]

For indexes of Court of Appeal Documents and newspaper articles:

An Index / Timeline of Court Appeal Documents on Cathy Fox Blog  [1]

An Index / Timeline of Court Appeal Documents on Cathy Fox Blog [2]


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 reading unnecessary detail about themselves or friends, to stop identification of victims and to stop the gratification of those who seek salacious details.

In addition to the obvious “victims redaction”  of personal information about victims, including their ages sometimes, I have thus “assault redacted” across most of the spectrum of abuse. This may obscure sometimes the legal reason for the appeal, but should make no large difference to the vital information for researchers that these documents contain. That information is mainly names of the perpetrators, past addresses, the actual specific charges the perpetrators faced – on which newspapers are pathetically inaccurate and this information enables the links and patterns between people and places and abuse at various times to be ascertained.

If you think that the balance is not correct or that a particular redaction needs reconsideration, please say.

Index/Timeline of Court Appeal Documents on Cathy Fox Blog [2]

Index Timeline of Newspaper Articles on Cathy Fox Blog [1]

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. Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.

[2001] EWCA Crim 296

Case No: 2000/1582-1709/Y4




Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Thursday 15th February 2001

Lord Justice Kennedy

Mr Justice Henriques

Mr Justice Owen



Barrie Owen Alden

John Robert Stafford Wright

(Transcript of the Handed Down Judgment 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 N Cooke QC (assigned By The Registrar Of Criminal Appeal) Appeared For

Mr M Bishop QC (assigned By The Registrar Of Criminal Appeal) Appeared For


As Approved by the Court


1. On the 16th of February 2000 at the Crown Court at Newport, Gwent before
Judge Crowther QC, Barrie Owen Alden was convicted on 10 counts, 4 of
Buggery, 5 of Indecent Assault on a male, and 1 of committing Gross
Indecency with a child, there were 6 victims. He was sentenced to a total
of 15 years imprisonment. John Robert Stafford Wright was convicted on 6
counts, 2 of Attempted Buggery and 4 of Indecent Assault; there were 4
victims. He was sentenced to a total of 8 years imprisonment.


2. The victims were all young boys; pupils at a residential school in Gwent
then referred to as an approved school. They were at the time of the
offences in the age bracket of 13 to 16 and could be placed in the school
if they had committed a criminal offence or if their parents considered
them to be beyond parental control. Many of the boys were vulnerable having
been neglected, abused and assaulted.

3. The appellant Alden is now aged 66. He began work at the school in
November 1967 as a House Master and lived in a flat at the school. He
became a Warden in control of a unit of 80 boys. He was appointed Deputy
Headmaster in 1977 and in 1984 he was appointed Deputy Principal. The
offences took place over a 17-year period.

4. The appellant Wright now aged 56 was employed at the school between 1966
and early 1970 as a Housemaster. The offences took place over a 3-year
period between January 1966 and February 1969. Two of the victims were
abused by both Defendants.


5. Counts 1, 4 and 5 related to offences against Boy A and covered
the period January 1966 to November 1971. This boy was particularly
vulnerable having been abandoned at birth, named by nurses at a local
hospital and thereafter brought up in homes, orphanages and approved
schools. [Assault redacted] He knew no other home and was frightened of being alone.

6. Count 7 related to an offence of indecent assault upon Boy B. The appellant Alden [Assault redacted].

7. Counts 21 and 22 related to offences of indecent assault and buggery
upon Boy C committed in 1980. The boy aged 16 had been placed in
the home by his parents as being out of control. The appellant invited the
boy to his flat where he gave him brandy and cigarettes and [Assault redacted] took place. The boy felt frightened and ran away. Some months later the appellant again invited the
boy to his flat where [Assault redacted] The boy described the pain as ‘nothing like I had experienced before’. The boy absconded regularly.

8. Count 23 related to an offence of buggery on Boy D who was
born in 1974 and was placed in the home aged 13 when his parents separated.
[Assault redacted]

9. Count 29 relates to an offence of indecent assault on Boy E who
recollected that whenever the appellant had a chance he would put his arm
around him and speak nicely to him. [Assault Redacted] Sometimes this happened in the showers.

10. Counts 37 and 38 relate to an offence of buggery and an offence of
gross indecency against Boy F. Whilst at the appellants flat
the boy fell asleep and woke up [Assault redacted]


11. Count 2 relates to an offence of attempted buggery by the appellant
Wright upon Boy A who was abused by his co-appellant in Counts 1,
4 and 5. The appellant [Assault redacted]

12. Counts 8, 9 and 10 relate to allegations of indecent assault and
attempted buggery upon Boy H who was 13 when he went to the school.
He was placed in a dormitory run by the appellant but was unhappy and ran
away. The appellant thereafter [Assault redacted]. He arranged home leave for the boy but after it said ‘you owe me for that one’. He took the boy to a semi derelict house on several
occasions where numerous acts of [Assault redacted]

13. Count 13 relates to an allegation of indecent assault upon Boy J. The two stayed in a house in Bristol where the boy woke up to find the appellant [Assault redacted]

14. Count 28 related to an allegation of indecent assault upon Boy E (also indecently assaulted by Alden). The appellant invited the boy to his flat, gave him biscuits and sweets and acted like a father figure. [Assault Redacted]

15. On Alden’ s behalf it was submitted that the Judge failed sufficiently
to have regard:
1) to the appellants age.

2) to the fact he is no longer a danger.

3) sufficiently to his good character.

4) to delay since the commission of the offences.

5) to the fact that sentencing levels have increased since the time the
offences were committed.

6) to Article 7 of the European Convention.

16. On Wright’ s behalf the same arguments were raised with particular
emphasis on the passage of time since the most recent offence in his case
was 1969 whereas in Alden’ s case it was 1984.

17. Alden was born on the 21st August 1933 and was thus aged between 34 and
51 when he committed the offences and aged 66 when sentenced. Wright was
born on 3rd August 1943 and was thus aged between 23 and 26 when he
committed the offences and aged 56 when sentenced. There are four reported
cases wherein the significance of age in sentencing the elderly has been

18. In * R v C * 1992 14 Cr App R ( s) 562 sentences totalling 8 years
imprisonment were upheld on a man aged 79 for a series of sexual offences
committed against his grandchildren, the last of which was 10 years
earlier. Lord Taylor C.J. said:

“Had this appellant been of younger years, we have no doubt that the
appropriate sentence would have been in the region of 12 years. As it is
the learned Judge was very conscious of the age of the appellant, and the
fact he suffered from certain illnesses ………. We consider that reduction
that the learned Judge made here was as great a reduction as these
appalling circumstances could permit”

19. In * R v S * 1998 1 Cr App R ( s) 261 a man of 82 was sentenced to 3
years for rape which was upheld on appeal. It was made clear that a
substantial discount for age was appropriate but that no actuarial approach
was to be adopted.

20. In * R v Anderson * 1999 1 Cr App R ( S) 273 sentences of 8 years
imprisonment imposed on a man aged 77 for a series of offences against
young girls were reduced to 6 years on appeal Potts J stating:

“We have come to the conclusion that in the case of a man approaching his 78
th birthday, a man moreover of previous good character, this

Court can take a merciful course and at the same time safeguard the public

21. In * R v W * (Sentencing Age of Defendant) The Times October 26th 2000
the Court of Appeal Criminal Division Rose L.J., Astill J. and Richards J.
held that the age of a defendant was to be taken into consideration in
sentencing and the sentence should accordingly be reduced, if the
appropriate sentence for the offences of which he had been convicted would
result in his release when he was well over 80.

22. We were referred quite properly to the case of * Hutchison * (1988) 10
Cr App R ( S) 50 where the appellant was 62 years of age. Watkins L.J.
stated that:

“10 years in our experience is the kind of starting point at which one
considers what is appropriate for conduct of this kind by men advancing in
years. There may be in certain circumstances the need to pass a total
sentence somewhat in excess of 10 years. Those cases are relatively rare
…….. We entertain some confidence that with the passage of time old age
might drive out of him the overwhelming sexual urge he feels to interfere
with young children. It should be noted that he pleaded guilty ”

23. That case was primarily concerned with the fact that at some stage
during his sentence the appellant would be no longer a danger to young
girls – which is a different head of mitigation to age simpliciter.

24. We do not feel that by reason of age alone that a man aged 66 when
sentenced can expect a 15-year sentence to be reduced. He is liable to be
released aged 76 which is well within the time span contemplated in * R v
W * . Wright’ s argument that some discount at the age of 56 was
appropriate likewise fails.

25. Both appellants submit that the learned Judge failed to have regard to
the fact that each was no longer a danger to the public. However in his
sentencing remarks Judge Crowther stated:

“I think it less necessary to deter either of you from committing other
offences of this nature because there is no indication in your case,
Wright, of any continuing desire of this nature, and in your case, Alden,
of any desire to create opportunities since you ceased to work which gave
you the opportunities”

26. It is further submitted that the learned Judge failed to have
sufficient regard to the good character of each defendant. In Alden’ s case
the Judge accepted that he had done many good and kindly works and ‘that
you were conscientious caring and kindly’. The fact however that his
criminality extended over 17 years must necessarily restrict credit to be
given for good character. In Wright’ s case the Judge said:

“You were then a young man. There are real signs that you set out with
genuine idealism. I’m sure you were a young man of some naivete and that
equally in your case there were real signs of your using enthusiasm to help
boys. You were, I believe, in part at least seduced by the atmosphere that existed to some extent in the school and by the opportunity that presented itself”

27. It is clear too from the sentencing remarks that the Judge had well in
mind the passage of time since the offence. He said ‘these are very old

28. The aspect of the appeal which occupied the greater part of the Courts
time was the assertion made on behalf of both appellants that sentencing
levels have substantially increased since the time the offences were
committed. Mr Bishop QC relied upon a table running to 10 pages in which
sentences for serious sexual offences are set out between December 1970 and
May 1999. We are told these cases were collated at random. He relies on the
chart to support his submission that sentencing levels have naturally and
significantly increased during that period.

29. The starting point must be the guideline case of * Willis * 1975 1 WLR
292 in which Lawton LJ said that in the absence of strong mitigating
factors, the offence should result in immediate custody. Should there be
neither aggravating nor mitigating factors, the correct bracket was three
to five years with placement in the bracket depending on the age,
intelligence and education of the offender.

30. In * A-G’ s Ref (No 43 of 1994) * 1995 16 Cr App R ( S) 815 the Court
of Appeal noted that for cases involving significant aggravating features
(such as a sustained course of conduct against a number of boys) or where
there had been a gross breach of trust and authority, a sentence
significantly longer than the five years referred to in Willis would be
appropriate, somewhere between six and ten years.

31. This case however does not in any way seek to vary or increase the
Willis guidelines. It complements them. Lord Taylor CJ stated that Willis
gave guidance as to the level of sentence where there were no aggravating
or mitigating circumstances.

32. Indeed Willis has been followed and applied in * Malloy * 1997 1 Cr App
R ( S) 189 in which there was no suggestion that the Willis guidelines had
in any way been varied (seven years for an isolated act of buggery of a boy
aged 15 was reduced to 5 years after a trial). The Court of Appeal followed
the Willis guidelines.

33. Further in * A-G’ s Ref (No 31 of 1996) * 1997 1 Cr App R ( S) 308 the
case of Willis was the only case referred to in the judgment with no
suggestion by the Court that it was in anyway outdated. (For a single
offence of buggery on a 13 year old for money 2 years imprisonment after a
plea of guilty was increased to 31/2 years). But for double jeopardy it
would have been longer.

34. In * Bradley * 1998 1 Cr App R ( S) 432 the offender a man of 24
pleaded guilty to buggery of a boy aged 15. They had met at a club, which
was a meeting place for homosexuals and the boy stayed at the offenders
flat for two nights. Buggery took place on one occasion. The Court of
Appeal using Willis as a guideline said the appropriate sentence was 18
months imprisonment, which was at the lower end of the range. There are
examples of Willis being cited and applied in the intervening years e.g. in
* Moulder * 1990 12 Cr App R ( S) 391 .

35. In * White * 1990 12 Cr App R 30 entirely contrary to the submissions
made to us on behalf of both appellants it was submitted that the
sentencing tariff had been reduced an argument rejected by Lloyd LJ who

“Mr Morrish submits that since Willis was decided in 1975 the bracket has
been lowered by subsequent cases and is no longer to be regarded as three
to five years. We do not accept that submission. The sentence of three and
a half years is within that bracket. The bracket has not changed”

36. In * Attorney General Reference No 7 0f 1997 (Fearon) * 1998 1 Cr App R
( S) 268 Willis was cited without adverse comment.

37. The only scintilla of support for the appellants argument it to be
found in * Paget * 1998 1 Cr App R ( S) 80 in which Ognall J sitting with
McCowan LJ said:

“He reminds us of the way in which Lawton LJ expressed the appropriate term
for this kind of grave and persistent conduct, placing it in the bracket of
three to five years. He acknowledges however that since that time events
have move on. In particular it is necessary to remind ourselves of what
Lord Taylor CJ said in the case of Att Gens Reference (No 43 of 1994) to
which we have already referred.”

38. It is a matter of significance that the editors of Archbold 2001
edition at 20–129 state:

“The bracket of sentencing in cases of homosexual offences against boys
with neither aggravating nor mitigating factor was set out in Willis as
being from three to five years and has not been lowered by subsequent

39. Blackstones Criminal Practice 2000 states that ‘The Guideline case is
Willis’ and Dr Thomas in Current Sentencing Practice treats Willis as the
principal guideline case.

40. Accordingly we conclude without any difficulty that there has been no
changed approach to sentencing in buggery cases. Willis remains the
starting point and in cases with numerous aggravating features such as
present reference should be made to subsequent cases referred to herein.

41. Particular reliance was placed in argument upon Hutchison (supra) which
was a very different case from the present. A man with a previous
conviction for sexual offences befriended a family and five children aged 7
to 13 and of mixed sexes and buggered or indecently assaulted each of them
within a very limited time span. He pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 14
years imprisonment reduced to 10 years.

42. There are so many differences between that case and the present – the
plea, the time scale, the relationship, the personal circumstances of the
offender that no useful comparison can be made. It must however be
emphasised that there was a plea of guilty.

43. Having considered the above cases we find a consistency of sentencing
approach formulated in 1975 in Willis and continued to the present time. We
readily acknowledge that more long sentences may well have been passed in recent times. It is the experience of the Court that graver cases have been detected and operations such as the present have more frequently been undertaken to ensure that the
totality of an offender’ s misconduct has been placed before the Court.

44. We have carefully considered the schedule placed before us. 29 of the
cases cited did not involve buggery or attempted buggery. 19 of the cases
of buggery or attempted buggery were guilty pleas. Only * Leckey * 1999 1 Cr
App R ( S) 57 involved a period of offending in the region of 17 years.

45. Many reported cases did not involve a relationship of pupil and
teacher. The schedule does not in our view demonstrate that any sea change
in sentencing guidelines has occurred. On the contrary the repeated
reference to Willis by this Court establishes that same guidelines have
been consistently applied over the decades. Any apparent variation is
attributable to the gravity of offences coming before the Court.

Article 7 ECHR

46. Having concluded that there has been no increase in sentences any
submission based on Article 7 must fail. Out of respect for those who
conducted the argument we indicate in short form our conclusion.

47. Article 7 provides as follows:

No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act
or omission, which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or
international law at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier
penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the
Criminal offence was committed.

48. Accordingly the appellants relying on the italicised words allege that
the current enhanced level of sentencing (as they contend it to be) being
substantially greater than at the time the offences were committed amounted
to a contravention of Article 7 of the Convention, which prohibits the
retrospective imposition of heavier penalties.

49. Mr Perry who appeared for the Crown submitted that the appellants
committed offences at a time when the maximum sentence was well known and
that since the sentence imposed for each offence is within the maximum
penalty available at the time of the commission of the offence Article 7 is
not engaged.

50. Article 7 is a rule of law provision and is a safeguard against
arbitrary prosecution, conviction and punishment. It prevents the
retrospective application of criminal offences and the retrospective
imposition of heavier penalties.

51. In * SW v United Kingdom * (1996) 21 EHRR 363 the European Court
considered the disappearance of a husband’ s common law immunity from
prosecution for the rape of his wife. The court observed that:

“However clearly drafted a legal provision may be, in any system of law,
including criminal law, there is an inevitable element of judicial
interpretation. There will always be a need for elucidation of doubtful
points and for adaptation to changing circumstances. Indeed in the United
Kingdom, as in other Convention states, the progressive development of the
criminal law through judicial law making is a well entrenched and necessary
part of legal tradition. Article 7 of the Convention cannot be read as
out-lawing the gradual clarification of the rules of criminal liability
through judicial interpretation from case to case, provided that the
resultant development is consistent with the essence of the offence and
could be reasonably foreseen”

52. Since the abandonment of the immunity was itself in conformity with the
objectives of the Convention, in our judgment, an increase in sentencing
guidelines (had it occurred) would likewise have been in conformity with
the Convention, provided such increase was within the statutory maximum.

53. Mr Perry pointed out that whilst the European Court has found violation
in cases in which the applicant was subjected to penalties pursuant to a
law passed after the offence was committed (* Welch v United Kingdom * 1995
20 EHRR 247 and * Jamil v France * 1996 21 EHRR 65 where a sentence is
increased on appeal Article 7 is not violated provided the sentence is
increased within the statutory maximum (* Grant v United Kingdom
Application * 12002/86 (8th March 1988).

54. The conclusion is plain. Article 7 prohibits the imposition of a
sentence greater than the maximum penalty at the time the offence was
committed, and does not involve the European Court in the consideration of
levels of sentencing within the contracting states.


55. ALDEN. He is now aged 66 and prior to the commission of these offences
was of good character. For 15 years after he ceased work at the school he
did nothing to create similar opportunities. He did many good and kindly
works. However these offences involved the buggery of 4 different boys and
indecency with two others. None of the offences was an isolated one. They
were committed over a period of 17 years. He was in a very considerable
position of trust. The children were particularly vulnerable. On occasions
he caused much pain and distress. Two boys were abused by both appellants.
He used his power to discourage and prevent report and discovery by threats
of discipline and disbelief. He showed favour and care thereby grooming his

56. Although as the Judge said the trial could not add to his sentence,
there was no credit to be earned by a plea of guilty. Any early plea of
guilty would in our view have merited a full discount of one third having
regard to the great distress that such a plea could have avoided for the
victims, and the great saving of public money. A sentence of 10 years would
have been appropriate after a plea of guilty. A sentence of 15 years was in
the circumstances fully deserved.

57. WRIGHT. He is now aged 56 and prior to the commission of these offences
was of good character. Since 1969 he has avoided any similar misconduct. He
did commit attempted buggery and abandoned his attempts when pain on the
part of the victim intruded. He was a naïve young man who may in part have
been seduced by an existing atmosphere in the school.

58. However there were a considerable number of criminal acts committed
against a total of 4 boys over a 3 year period. He attempted to bugger two
boys on a number of occasions. He ejaculated into one boy’ s mouth. He used
home leave to bribe a boy prior to his seduction and gave another boy
biscuits and sweets as part of a planned grooming. He was a housemaster and
in a particular position of trust to highly vulnerable boys.

59. Again an early plea of guilty would have earned substantial credit and
for reasons already expressed would have reduced the sentence to 5 or at
the most 6 years. Mr Bishop sought to persuade us that because there were a
number of verdicts of not guilty a trial was justified and accordingly
there should be some reduction in sentence. Pleas of guilty earn credit and
his submission is ill founded. A sentence of 8 years accurately evaluates
both the mitigation and the aggravating factors in this latter case.

60. Accordingly both appeals are dismissed.

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. Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.


[1] Cathy Fox Blog 2015 May 8 [constantly updated] An Index / Timeline of Court Appeal Documents on Cathy Fox Blog

[2] Cathy Fox Blog 2015 May 8 [constantly updated] An Index / Timeline of Court Appeal Documents on Cathy Fox Blog

[3] 2013 Jul 29 Cathy Fox Blog Ty Mawr Community Home Inquiry Report 1992: Gareth Williams QC John McCreadie M.Ed

[4] 2001 Feb 27 Times Law Report via Cathy Fox Blog 2015 Jun 9 Barrie Owen Alden. John Robert Stafford Wright. Times Law Reports. Court of Appeal 27 February 2001

[A] Sanctuary for the Abused


[C] One in Four

[D] Havoca

[E] SurvivorsJustice Triggers post

[F] SurvivorsJustice Blog

[G] Jim Hopper Mindfulness

[H] Jim Hopper Meditation

This is all written in good faith but if there is anything that needs to be corrected please email

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

About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
This entry was posted in #OpPaedoHunt, cathyfoxblog, Child sexual abuse, Court, Ty Mawr, Wales and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Barrie Owen Alden, John Robert Stafford Wright, Court of Appeal 15th February 2001

  1. Pingback: An Index and Timeline of Court & Court of Appeal, EWCA Documents on Cathy Fox Blog | cathyfox blog

  2. Pingback: Neil Wardell Court of Appeal 29th April 2004 [Ty Mawr] | cathyfox blog

  3. Pingback: [1] Ty Mawr Childrens Home | cathy fox blog on child abuse

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