Palmer, Couzens, Edwards, Fitzgerald 1971 May 24 Court of Appeal

The appeals against sentence were successful and the sentences reduced.

This appeal is relevant t0 2017 Jan 30 Sceptic Peg Blog The Brixton Brothel Paedophile Gang 1969 [1]


Some court 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” to protect victims details, there may also be “assault redaction” across most of the spectrum of abuse. The assaults are left in the charges, but mainly redacted when repeated with reference to the individual. I have also redacted unnecessary detail of assaults.

Redaction 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 vital information is mainly names of the perpetrators, past addresses, institutions where assaults occurred, the actual charges the perpetrators faced, and dates – on which newspapers are pathetically inaccurate and this information enables the links between people and places and abuse at various times to be ascertained.

Some transcripts may have been subject to automatic reading software and whilst effort has been made to correct these, the text should not be regarded as definitive.  Common mistakes in reprinting here are that quotation marks are sometimes not correct, replaced by odd symbols.

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

Index of Newspaper and Journal articles on this blog [1]

Index of Court Appeals on this blog [2]

[1971] EWCA Crim J0524-1   No. 6548/70  IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

Monday, 24th May 1971

Lord Justice Phillimore

Regina v

Maurice Alan Palmer

John Reginald Couzens

Reginald William Edwards

Royston Fitzgerald

(From the Shorthand Notes of Cherer & Co., 34 Essex Street, Strand, London, WC2R 3AT. Telephone Number:01-583 4121. Shorthand Writers to the Court.)

MR. J. MISKIN. Q.C. and MR. S. THOMAS appeared as Counsel on behalf of the Applicant Palmer.

MR. R. BOREHAM, Q.C. and MR. G. LANGLEY appeared as Counsel on “behalf of the Applicant Couzens.

THE APPLICANTS Edwards and Fitzgerald were not represented

MR. JUSTICE MacKENNA: Six men appeared together before the Common Sergeant last November charged with acts of indecency committed with young children. They pleaded guilty and received long sentences of imprisonment.

Four of them apply for leave to appeal against sentenced, the four of them “being Royston Fitzgerald, John Reginald Couzens, Reginald William Edwards and Maurice Alan Palmer. Edwards and Fitzgerald asked for extension of time, which is granted. The other two defendants were John Austin Napier and Peter James Tope who have made no applications.

John Austin Napier, who is 57 years old, was the principal offender. He pleaded guilty to acts of indecency committed on fourteen occasions with nine different children, “between January 1967 and June 1970. He also pleaded guilty to fourteen charges of aiding and abetting each of the other defendants to commit the acts with which they were charged.

He received a sentence of nine years’ imprisonment. Tope who pleaded guilty to two offences received a sentence of two years’ imprisonment. These two, as I have said, do not ask for leave to appeal.

All the offences to which the Applicants pleaded guilty, with one exception were committed in Napier’s flat in Brixton. All of them were committed in Napier’s presence. The same three children were involved in these charges -a girl called  [AB] who in 1967 was 11 years old, a girl called  [CD] who in 1969 was 10 years old and [redacted] [EF] , who in that year was 9 years old. CD and EF are the daughters of West Indian parents, and one of them is said to be educationally backward.

I shall take the four accused in the order in which their names appear in the transcript. Royston Fitzgerald pleaded guilty to three offences, the first committing acts of gross indecency with EF between 1969 and 1970 when this child had been 10 or 11 years old; and the second indecently assaulting AB between 1967 and 1969 when the child was between 11 and 13 years old; and the third of indecently assaulting CD between 1969 and 1970 when the child was between 9 and 10 years old.

It appears from the statement of Counsel for the Crown in the Court below that the acts of indecency were touching the girls’ vaginas and allowing them to lie naked or partly naked on top of him and on one occasion the insertion of a candle into the girl’s vagina. When his flat was searched, a number of indecent photographs were found, including photographs of the three girls in question.

It appears that he brought a projector to Napier’s flat and showed indecent films to the children. For each of the three offences with which Fitzgerald was charged, he received a sentence of 5 years’ imprisonment concurrent. Fitzgerald was 63 years old, living at Aldershot, where he had been employed as an Equipment Inspector in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers.

He had served in that department for nearly 30 years and had been awarded a Memorial Service Medal for his services. Through his conviction he forfeits his pension rights. He has no previous convictions. A number of witnesses were called in the Court below to speak of his good character and of his conscientious discharge of his professional and social duties. Though it was stated by Counsel for the Crown in the Court below that the three charges brought against Fitzgerald were three sample charges only, no notice of other offences was served and he did not ask the Court to take into consideration any other offence than these three.

Couzens was charged with indecently assaulting each of the three girls and of committing acts of gross indecency with each of them. These six charges were said by Counsel for the Crown to be a selection of a larger number of similar offences. He was given a sentence of six years’ imprisonment. In his case too no notice of other offences was served on him and he did not ask the Court to take any other offences into consideration.

Couzens is 44 years old and a single man. He was working for Lloyds Bank. He had been employed then as an Assistant Manager. He had been employed in this bank in responsible positions over a long period of years. During the war he had served for years in the Royal Air Force.

He too had no previous convictions. It is said that from his undergraduate days he has undergone psychiatric treatment in an endeavour to cure his emotions and sexual immaturity. In his case one of the acts of indecency was allowing a girl to lie naked on top of him with his penis between her legs. The rest of the offences, we are told, were touching the girls’ private parts and being touched by the young girls.

Edwards was charged with two offences committed on the same day, of indecently assaulting CD. He received a sentence of three years’ imprisonment. When Counsel for the Crown was opening the case, he was asked by the Common Sergeant whether these were two specimen charges or whether they were the only two occasions on which he had offended.

Counsel replied that according to the evidence indecency had taken place on one day only with the two offences with which he was charged. He added, this would not have been supported by the girl if she had been called as a witness. His own Counsel, makinghis plea in mitigation repeated his client’s contention that he had only offended on this one day. The Common Sergeant said he could not accept it, because of statements made in some of the exhibits, which apparently referred to Palmer.

The Common Sergeant was corrected on the point as Counsel for the Prosecution intervened and referred to the statement by CD that it had happened lots of times. No notice of other offences was served on Edwards and as I said he contends he had committed no other offences than the two with which he was charged. The indecent assaults committed on these two occasions were said by Counsel for the Crown to have been manual and oral.

Edwards is 57 years old, and has a good record of employment throughout his life. He had no previous convictions. He was described by the Officer in charge as being on the fringe of these offences.

Palmer was charged with one offence only of indecently assaulting CD. In a report from a Psychiatrist, put in to mitigate the offence, there is a statement by the Psychiatrist that Palmer had admitted to him committing three offences with this girl CD. No notice was served of other offences and he has not asked that two other offences should be taken into consideration.

He is a graduate of a University of South of England. He has held many places in different museums and art galleries. At the time of his conviction he was employed as Curator of the Art Gallery at the Civic Centre in Southampton where he lived with his wife and one of their two children.

There were submitted to the Court a number of testimonials speaking of his professional service and of the high regard in which he is held by many people, certainly in the army, where he served from 1941to 1946. In 1966 and 1967 he had sought help from his Psychiatrist to cure his aberrant sexual desires which appeared to be a tendency to transvestism and homosexuality. There are no previous convictions against him. He received a sentence of three years’ imprisonment.

In passing sentence on this man the Common Sergeant observed “I accept that the girls were all very perverted.” He accepted as in the case of all of them, except perhaps Napier, the material put before him that the offences with which the Applicants were charged were committed after Napier had brought the girls to his flat on previous occasions. It was Napier who had met them in the first instance and had first made contact himself.

From the observations which I have already quoted from the opening of Counsel for the Crown and some of these derogatory observations of the Common Sergeant, it would seem likely, in choosing the sentence to be passed on the Applicants, he gave heavier sentences than he would otherwise have done, because of the view that they had offended on many other occasions than which they had been charged with.

This is justified where a notice has been served charging a man with committing other offences and where the man asks that the other offences should be taken into consideration against him. Here no notices were served. The Applicants did not ask that other offences should be taken into consideration. In one case at least there was evidence but the man denied that there had been any such offence.

The offences with which these four Applicants were charged were not the worst of the kind. There was no charge of intercourse with the girls, there was no charge of attempted  intercourse. Neither buggery or attempted buggery is charged. Bearing in mind that these were men who had not previously been convicted of offences of this kind, or indeed of anything, that they were men of good characters, and that in some cases at least they had struggled against their inclinations to offend in this way, recollecting the other matters to which I have referred, in particular that the Applicants had not perverted the children, we are of the opinion that the sentences in these four cases were too severe.

We will substitute for the sentences passed by the Common Sergeant, in Fitzgerald’s case a sentence of thirty months’ imprisonment, in Couzens’ case a sentence of three years’ imprisonment, in Edwards’ case a sentence of eighteen months’ imprisonment and in Palmer’s case a sentence of eighteen months’ imprisonment. All these sentences are imposed in respect of each count and are to be concurrent. These applications will be treated as the hearing of the appeal. It is open to the Applicants, if they are not satisfied with the order which we are making, to apply to the Court on some other occasion, although we give them no encouragement to do so.

MR. BOREHAM: I hope I have not taken a wrong point, but I think in giving judgment Mr. Justice MacKenna said in the case of Couzens it would be three years concurrent on each count.

MR. JUSTICE MacKENNA: Have I been mistaken?

MR. BOREHAM: I rise to say that, as I think your lordship may have done. I thought it right to mention it. Three of these offences are under the Indecency with Children Act.

LORD JUSTICE PHILLIMORE: What sentence did the Common Sergeant pass on the indecency? Five years on counts 15, 16 and 17, that will be reduced to ..

MR. BOREHAM: Three, as I understand it.

LORD JUSTICE PHILLIMORE: Three. The other is twelve months.

MR. BOREHAM: Is that to be concurrent instead of consecutive, my Lord, have I got it right?

MR. JUSTICE MacKENNA: You have got it right

Index of Newspaper and Journal articles on this blog [1]

Index of Court Appeals on this blog [2]

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. These links are generally UK based.

  • 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.
  • One in Four [C]
  • Havoca [D].
  • Useful post on Triggers [E]  from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.
  • Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.
  • Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma  [J]
  • Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]
  • Voicing CSA group [L] helps arrange survivors meetings in your area
  • A Prescription for me blog Various emotional support links [M]
  • ShatterBoys -“Male Survivors Of Childhood Sexual Abuse Inspiring change, Through Shared Experience Whilst Building Connections…Together We Can Heal” [N]


[1] Index of Newspaper and Journal articles on this blog

[2] Index of Court Appeals EWCA on this blog

[3] 2017 Jan 30 Sceptic Peg Blog The Brixton Brothel Paedophile Gang 1969

[A] Sanctuary for the Abused

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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5 Responses to Palmer, Couzens, Edwards, Fitzgerald 1971 May 24 Court of Appeal

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

  2. hollie greig justice says:


  3. Pingback: THE BRIXTON BROTHEL – scepticpeg

  4. Pingback: Cath fox Brian Clare’s Story and Operation Rose | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE

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