Twenty-one people have been convicted of ‘abhorrent and cruel’ sexual offences against seven young children in Walsall that spanned almost a decade.
In the biggest investigation of its kind in West Midland Police’s history, three trials have taken place in the last 15 months to ensure that justice was served for the victims who were younger than 12 at the time of their abuse.
Reporting restrictions were in place until the verdict of the third trial today (5 April) which saw the conviction of three defendants, they will be sentenced on 12 May. One more defendant was found not guilty.
The first trial in January last year saw a verdict reached in May for nine defendants. And the second trial ran from September to January this year convicting a further nine defendants.
The only defendant to plead guilty to child sexual abuse in the biggest investigation of its kind in West Midlands Police’s history has been jailed for nine years today.
Twenty-one people were convicted of horrific sexual offences against seven young children in Walsall which spanned almost a decade.
Three trials took place over the course of 15 months to secure justice for the victims, and the final trial concluded on 5 April where three defendants were found guilty and were also sentenced today.
Natasha Webb, aged 37, pleaded guilty at the start of the first trial to conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the commission of a child sex offence, five counts of causing a child under 13 to engage in penetrative sexual activity, two counts of child cruelty and two counts of sexual assault of a child under 13.
She will also be under an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) and an indefinite restraining order was imposed in respect of the victims.
Also sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court today were:
• Matthew Evans, aged 32, was found guilty of conspiracy to cause or incite children under 13 to engage in penetrative sexual activity and rape of a child under 13 and jailed for 17 and a half years with an indefinite SHPO and an indefinite restraining order.
• John Griffiths, aged 66, was found guilty of causing or inciting children under 13 to engage in penetrative sexual activity and rape of a child under 13. He was jailed for 17 and a half years with a 20-year SHPO and an indefinite restraining order.
• Violet Griffiths, aged 66, was found guilty of causing or inciting children under 13 to engage in penetrative sexual activity and causing a child under 13 to engage in penetrative sexual activity. She was jailed for 15 years with a 20-year SHPO and an indefinite restraining order.
The total number of custodial years for these horrific offences is now a staggering 190.
Joanne Jakymec, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the CPS, said: “The final four defendants have been sentenced today in what has been the largest ever child sexual abuse investigation and prosecution in the West Midlands.
“The 21 offenders convicted in Operation Satchel perpetrated the most abhorrent catalogue of systematic sexual abuse on seven children. The scale, depravity and deeply disturbing nature of which is unlike anything I have seen during my time working for the CPS and has shocked everyone who has been involved in bringing them to justice.
“The cruel abuse which they inflicted on the victims for years has caused them physical and extreme psychological harm, leaving them traumatised.
“I would like to thank and commend all of the victims and the witnesses for their bravery in coming forward and giving evidence – it is their courage which enabled us to bring this case to court and see justice served.
“This has been a complex and challenging case which, due to the sheer number of defendants involved, required us to prepare for and present evidence in three separate trials which took place over a period of 18 months to successfully secure this outcome.
“With the exception of one defendant, who admitted what they had done, none of the rest have shown the slightest remorse.
“I would also like to thank the West Midlands Police investigation team who worked with the CPS over five years painstakingly reviewing a huge amount of evidence to ensure that this large network of child sexual abusers was prosecuted and convicted.
“All children have the right to feel safe and protected. We hope the outcome of this case will encourage anyone who may be in a similar position to come forward to report these incidents to the police, knowing we will do all we can to prosecute where there is sufficient evidence to do so and offer support for victims.”