Broxtowe child sexual abuse Court of Appeal 6th July 1995

The appeal relates to intergenerational incestuous and ritual sexual abuse in Broxtowe in the 1980’s. This appeal was by VY . VY was the daughter of WX. WX applied for leave to appeal against conviction. Both were dismissed.

Trigger Warning

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. Also see Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma*  [J]

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” 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 charges the perpetrators faced – on which newspapers are pathetically inaccurate and this information enables the links 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.

Cathy Fox Blog Index and Timeline of Court Appeals and Documentation [2]

This particular appeal has received much redaction. There has been redaction of victims names, ages, gender. There has been redaction of perpetrators because victims may have been able to be identified from them and some were possible perpetrators and victims. There has been redaction of witness, social workers and probation officer names due to the high profile nature of the case. They can be identified by PO Probation Officer, SW Social Worker and SSW Senior Social Worker. All others letters are random.

[1995] EWCA Crim J0706-6

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL CRIMINAL DIVISION

No: 92/4148/Z5-94/0630/W3

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand

London WC2

Thursday 6th July 1995

Before: Lord Justice Staughton Mr Justice Scott Aker and Mr Justice
Butterfield

Regina
v.

VY

WX

MR P THORNTON appeared on behalf of the Appellant VY

MR P FORTSON appeared on behalf of the Appellant WX

MR P JOYCE QC appeared on behalf of the Crown

(Computer Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of John Larking,
Chancery House, Chancery Lane, London WC2 Telephone No: 071 404 7464
Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)

JUDGMENT

(As Approved by the Court)
Thursday 6th July 1995

JUDGMENT

LORD JUSTICE STAUGHTON: VY  who appeals against conviction, is the daughter of WX, who applies for leave to appeal against conviction. We shall refer to her as Mrs. VY

They were part of a large family of three generations which was said to
have been involved in sexual abuse of children on a substantial scale. The
case was that WX and some of his children, or their husbands or
wives, had been guilty of indecent assault, buggery, incest, and such like,
where one of the grandchildren was the victim. The trial was at Nottingham
Crown Court before Farquharson J. and a jury.

The first indictment named ten defendants and contained fifty-three counts.
There were other lesser indictments. Apart from Mrs. VY and Mr. WX
the other eight defendants pleaded guilty; and so did one other defendant,
who was on subsidiary indictments only. The total sentence for those others
varied between 8 years’ imprisonment and 6 months suspended.

Mrs. VY pleaded guilty at a late stage to three counts. Not guilty
verdicts were entered by direction on six other counts and on two counts of
obtaining property by deception. The convictions in her case were on count
28, aiding and abetting incest, on count 29, aiding and abetting indecent
assault and on count 30, also aiding and abetting indecent assault.

The facts, in a nutshell, on count 28 were that

Mr. WX sat their [child], A, aged x, [less than 10] on his knee and had sexual
intercourse with him/her. Mrs. VY was present and failed to intervene. On
count 29 it was said that Mr. WX placed his penis in A’s mouth.
On count 30, that he did the same with another [child], B, aged x [less than 10] . On
both those occasions it was said that Mrs. VY was present and did not
intervene.

She was sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment concurrent on those three
charges; that sentence was passed on 2nd February 1989. It has long since
been served. Notice of appeal was only given on 15th July 1992. WX maintained his plea of not guilty. After a trial he was convicted of
ten offences of indecent assault and one of buggery. He was sentenced,
again on 2nd February 1989, to 10 years’ imprisonment concurrent on all
those charges. WX was acquitted of two other offences. On a third he
pleaded not guilty and a not guilty verdict was ordered to be entered.
Three other charges were ordered to lie on the file.

The victims in the eleven counts on which WX was convicted were all his
grandchildren. Some of them featured more than once. His notice of appeal
was given on 25th January 1994, 5 years later. In his case too the sentence
had already been served.

Waterhouse J. gave leave to appeal in the case of Mrs. VY. She applied
to give evidence on her own behalf. Taylor’s application for leave to
appeal was referred to the Full Court by the Registrar. None of the other
nine members of the family pleaded not guilty. They were sentenced to terms
of up to 8 years’ imprisonment and have not sought leave to appeal against
conviction as far as we know. They too have presumably served their
sentences.

What gave rise to the present proceedings appears to have been the
discovery by Mrs. VY and Mr. WX or their legal advisors of three
reports. The first has been called the Barnfarther Report. The summary of
it that we have is dated 9th November 1988, so it came into existence
before the trial of WX and the guilty pleas of Mrs. VY. The
report was prepared by a Detective Constable of the Nottinghamshire Police
force working alone. After that, and after the trial and sentencing of the
offenders, came the report of a joint enquiry by the police and social
services of Nottinghamshire. That has been called the Jet Report.
Thereafter there came the Team 4 Report, compiled by the social services as
an answer to the Jet Report. None of the three reports were disclosed to
the defence before the trial and guilty pleas. The Jet Report and the Team
4 Report could not have been as they did not then exist.

The contents of the three reports comprised information obtained by those
compiling them about child abuse in the X family and in particular,
about the possibility of what is called satanic abuse. We take that to mean
conduct in the course of which fear or injury is caused to children in
circumstances associated with witches or others indicia of a religion which
is hostile to mankind. It is distinguished from sexual abuse, although the
two may overlap. In addition to information obtained, there was in the
reports a significant amount of comment about the reliability of evidence
that might be given by the grandchildren and others in the X case. For
example, the view was expressed that methods of enquiry used by the social
services might actually create or multiply in the minds of the
grandchildren the belief that abuse had taken place, or at least a
disposition to say that it had; that there had been contamination of
witnesses; that there was no reliable evidence of there ever having been
satanic abuse, despite investigation, and that two adult witnesses were
totally discredited.

Of course the views expressed on such matters in the reports were not
evidence that could have been admitted at the trial, they were simply the
opinions of those who were compiling the reports. So the reports, as such,
were not in the category of documents which ought to have been disclosed.
Assuming in the case of the last two that they had existed at the time, we
do not understand that to be disputed, but if it was disputed we still
reach that conclusion. What is said is that the facts upon which the
reports were based, whether to be found in documents or not, ought to have
been disclosed.

By way of summary the material can be described as follows:

(a) The grandchildren who had been taken into care after the events with
which the trial was concerned were the subject of wardship proceedings. In
the course of those proceedings social workers required or encouraged the
foster mothers to keep diaries of what the children said about their
previous experiences. The foster mothers carried out the task, it is said
with encouragement. There emerged increasingly bizarre stories of abuse,
such as of children being cooked in microwave ovens, which became
inherently incredible.

(b) The two adult witnesses, J and K , made statements to the police in which they admitted that what they had said previously about satanic abuse was untrue. J said this in her subsequent statement:

“My social worker started interviewing me and asked me questions about
parties involving witches. The first time she asked me about these things I
told her that the only parties of any kind I had been to were at the
X’s house at xx, xxxxxxxx Road. She interviewed me twice when I told
her I didn’t know anything about any other houses. On the third time, I was
asked to go to the social services office at Strelly Road to speak to SW. I can’t remember when this time was. She started asking me over and
over again whether I had been to any big houses where witch parties had
taken place. I kept saying I hadn’t. In the end I just got fed up of being
asked so I just said yes. She asked me to describe the houses. I told her I
couldn’t, so she said she’d take me around to see them in the car. I got in
her car and she drove me to two houses, the first was a big house, white
coloured, near the Nottingham Knight pub. There were sheep in the fields
around it. She pointed to the house and asked me if that was the house. I
said yes. She asked me what happened while I was there. I told her there
were video cameras there and children being abused. I made it all up. I had
never been to that house before in my life. I made up a description of the
inside of the house. She took me to another house near Wooletan Park, it
had a big back gate. She asked me whether this was another house I’d been
to. I just said yes. I agreed with whatever she’d said. I have been
interviewed about twenty times by SW about these houses but all I do
is keep saying yes. Whenever I see SW she buys me my dinner and
gives me coffee and ice creams. I have never been to any of these houses in
my life. I am aware that K is a regular visitor to the social
services office… and she’s told me she’s been telling the social service
about witch parties. I know she’s telling lies. She goes up to the social
service offices because she gets her dinners free and SSW gives
her money.”

Then later:

“I have never been to any of these houses and everything I have told SW is lies. I told her the truth more than once, but she wouldn’t believe me so I just said anything.”

(c) We do not have the subsequent statement of K, but a summary of it as follows:

‘K attends covern meetings. This belief stems from disclosure
K herself made to social services. K was interviewed
during March and February 1988 on several occasions by officers from
Operation Bilbo, and at no time did she give any indication of knowledge or
involvement in matters pertaining to witchcraft. Only after she became a
daily visitor to the offices of social services did she indicate any such
knowledge, and again, only to social workers. During early August 1988
K contacted social service/police enquiry team and said that she was
going to attend covern meetings. On two occasions she was therefore
discretely kept under surveillance. She did not attend anywhere where a
possible covern meeting could have taken place. On 15th August 1988 she was
interviewed and confirmed that she had attended no such meetings and a
statement was obtained to this effect.’

(d) SSW, a senior social worker, made a statement to the
police on 9th August 1988. In it she reported bizarre accounts received
from children and adults which must at least strain credibility. It may
also be said that she betrayed a tendency to investigate and to believe in
the occurrence of satanic abuse.

The case for Mrs. VY is that if this material had been disclosed
before the trial she would not have pleaded guilty to three counts and that
her convictions are unsafe and unsatisfactory. There are on authority two
grounds upon which her appeal might succeed. The first is that her pleas of
guilty should be treated as a nullity on familiar grounds set out in
Archbold (1995) para. 7.34. The second, that even if there is a proper plea
of guilty the Court retains a residual power to quash the conviction if it
is unsafe or unsatisfactory (see * R v. Lee * (1984) 79 Cr.App.R. 108 and * R
v. Foster * (1984) 79 Cr.App.R. 61 ). The circumstances in which that
course is taken are rare, very rare, exceptional. There must be grounds
which are sufficiently compelling.

In the statements of what she would say by way of further evidence, Mrs.
VY asserts that she did not commit the offences to which she pleaded
guilty, or any offences. Having pleaded not guilty as late as a directions
hearing in November 1988, she only changed her pleas on the first day of
the trial in the following January. She did so (i) because the changes [charges?]
would be reduced from 9 to 3;

(ii) because she was told that she would have to go to prison for a long
time if her children gave evidence against her; and

(iii) because she had been in custody for 10 months, her children had been
taken away and she felt that she had lost everything.

It is asserted that she was told that the case against her was strong. (It
is now submitted on her behalf that it was very weak). With an IQ of 66 she
was bordering on being mentally defective.

All that is difficult, if not impossible to reconcile with known facts
about her pleas. She had been told that her child, B, then aged x,
would not be giving evidence, so only A would give evidence against
her. But A and her [child], C, were both involved in the case against
her father, who was pleading not guilty. It was on 7th December 1988 that
her husband, MY, was known to be changing his pleas to guilty.
She discussed a change of plea with her counsel at a conference on 6th
January 1989. Manuscript notes of that conference are available. They
appear to read as follows:

“28 Incest G (A). Not full S.I.

29 Indecent assault MY on A. Not present when oral sex. Don’t
recall any separate act of indecency.

30 Indecent assault on B. Not sure on plea. Not sure at this stage of
basis of MY’s admission. Possibly something of this nature could have
happened.

NG to ct involving D

Plea to Ct 28. MY incest with A. If I’ve had a lot to drink all I
want to do is sleep it off.

I am clear in my own mind that something happened with MY and A.
Something indecent went off. I couldn’t be sure on the details. Go out at
night for drink. Come back. If someone’s birthday have sandwiches and
drink.’

The remainder of the notes dealt with deception matters for which not
guilty instructions were given. At some stage after that she asked to see
and did see her husband, MY, who had by then pleaded guilty and made a
witness statement. She then changed her plea. It seems plain to us that
what her husband said was the cause of her change —she no longer felt
concerned that she might be damaging his case if she pleaded guilty.

The report of a probation officer, dated 26th January 1989, contains an
account of unequivocal and detailed admissions by Mrs. VY. Her
explanation in the statement is this, at page 404:

“I remember speaking with PO, the probation officer. We were
together all one morning. I told her that I had done nothing. She said I
must have committed the offences of which I was convicted because I had
pleaded guilty. I told her that I wasn’t there. She said she was taking
notes. She said that she had to write her report as if I had committed the
offences. I told her I had been under a lot of pressure from my barrister
and solicitor. I did not give her the apparent details of offences which
are set out in the report. I do not remember saying that I just turned off.

PO was putting things to me, asking leading questions. I had
been through the evidence against me so many times in the wardship
proceedings and the criminal proceedings that I had simply had enough. In
the end, to get the meeting over with, I started just to say yes to what
she put to me. I thought that if I agreed with her she would get off my
back. Like everyone else she kept going on and on about it.’

Admissions are also recorded, although without detail in a report of Dr.
Rix, a psychiatrist, also dated 26th January 1989. In her statement Mrs.
VY says that she did not make any admissions to him and does not
remember meeting him at all.

It was argued on her behalf that her presence when her children were abused
and her failure to do anything about it was a somewhat slim case for aiding
and abetting. That, however, does nothing to show that her pleas of guilty
were a nullity or that her convictions were unsafe or unsatisfactory.

Thus far the attempt to explain away Mrs. VY’s pleas is not at all
convincing. But before ruling on it and before deciding whether she should
have leave to call further evidence (that is her own), we thought it right
to consider the remaining submissions on her behalf.

Of the material which was not disclosed and should have been —the foster
mother’s diaries were already available to Mrs. VY through the
wardship proceeding —in truth a tactical decision was involved whether to
use that material. That the grandchildren had, as time went by, taken to
giving fantastic accounts of satanic abuse might have helped her case in
showing that some things which she had said were not to be believed. On the
other hand, to broaden the criminal case against her by incorporating
evidence of satanic abuse as well as the limited participation in sexual
abuse, which she faced in counts 28, 29 and 30, might have been a grave
error. The decision was evidently taken to avoid that.

Mr. Joyce, for the Crown, accepts that the statements of K,
J and SSW ought to have been disclosed. But those
were witnesses not involved in Mrs. VY’s case. So evidence that she
had acknowledged falsehood, or evidence that they were far from impartial
would not have helped her.

The evidence against Mrs. VY was that of her [child], A, and of
her co-accused, who pleaded guilty and would have given evidence against
her, MY, NX and ST. Mr. Thornton, for Mrs. VY, accepts that the offences against A and B were committed by Mr. MY. The question is whether she was present and did
nothing to stop him. In our judgment there is nothing to show that her
convictions were unsafe or unsatisfactory, nor, viewing the matter as a
whole, do we consider that her pleas of guilty were a nullity or that she
should have leave to give evidence in accordance with her statements at
this late stage. Her application under section 23(1) of the Criminal Appeal
Act 1968 is dismissed, as is her appeal against conviction.

WX’s case is in some respects different. He was not a party to
the wardship proceedings and so had not had access, as of right, to the
foster mother’s diaries. However, it is impossible to believe that
information as to what was in them had not reached him or his legal
advisers.

K and J did give evidence against WX. Of those counts on which he was convicted K was a material witness for counts 10 to 15, and J for count 52. It would at first sight have been an advantage for WX for them to be cross-examined on their later statements whereby they retracted allegations of satanic abuse. The case against him was about sexual not satanic abuse, but confessions of falsehood in the past might well have been helpful.

However, Mr. Joyce tells us that the case against WX did not rely
principally on the evidence of either J or K; and
J was “quite well discredited in any event”; it was based on
four of the grandchildren —D, E, C and A —corroborated by
the evidence of co-accuseds, NX, ST and MY.

All but one of those charged in the main indictment sooner or later pleaded
guilty. They had not sought to appeal except for Mrs. VY, who has
sought to appeal and has failed. On the same or similar evidence as there
was against most of them WX was convicted by a jury.

We decline to hold that his conviction was unsafe or unsatisfactory merely
because there was non-disclosure that two witnesses (not themselves of
particular importance) had confessed to falsehood about satanic abuse,
which was not the subject matter of charges against WX or anyone
else. His application is dismissed.

Links

[2] 2015 Cathy Fox Blog Timeline of Court Appeals and Documentation https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/a-timeline-of-court-and-ewca-documentation-on-cathy-fox-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/

[G] Jim Hopper Mindfulness http://www.jimhopper.com/mindfulness/

[H] Jim Hopper Meditation http://www.jimhopper.com/mindfulness/#cultivate

[J] 2016 Jan 5 Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma* https://hwaairfan.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/an-indigenous-australian-approach-to-healing-trauma/

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

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” – Edmund Burke

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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 Broxtowe child sexual abuse Court of Appeal 6th July 1995

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

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