Eleanor Laws QC described the 73-year-old as a formidable presence who made children feel like there was no way out
The owner of a group of children’s homes has been found guilty of 26 charges of sexual abuse against troubled and vulnerable youngsters who were in his care.
John Allen, 73, was convicted of committing offences at residential homes in and around Wrexham in north Wales. The jury at Mold crown court continues to deliberate on 12 other counts.
Opening the case against Allen, Eleanor Laws QC had claimed the owner and manager of the Bryn Alyn Community homes sexually abused and tormented children as young as seven over a period of more than 20 years from the late 60s to the early 90s.
A married man and a hotelier by trade, Allen created a “sexualised atmosphere”, grooming some children by giving them gifts and treats, including motorcycles and lunches out, but threatening others with violence if they did not comply, it was alleged. The children were allegedly abused in their dormitory beds, in bathrooms, during camping trips and overnight expeditions, at Allen’s home and at his hotel.
Those who plucked up the courage to go to the authorities were disbelieved or ignored, it was claimed. The court was told that one boy alleged he saw Allen assault a child in front of a social worker without any comeback.
Another child claimed he told a social worker he had been abused, only to be assaulted by the social worker’s boss.
When children did go to the police, Allen was called to pick them up and take them back, the jury heard. One boy alleged that he was introduced to Allen through a “paedophile gang” before being abused by him.
Laws described Allen as “a formidable presence” at the homes. She said many of the children arrived having already been abused, but Allen took advantage of their vulnerability.
“Most had to learn to live with it,” Laws said. “They felt there was no way out.”
She told the jury there had been two previous investigations. Allen was found guilty in the early 90s after an inquiry into sexual abuse relating to six boys. In 2001 he was charged with sexual offences connected to a number of boys but was not tried because of a technicality, she said.
The barrister said Allen was charged this time after the launch in 2012 of a police inquiry into child abuse, codenamed Operation Pallial.
One complainant, taken into care in the late 1960s for his own protection, recalled the smell of whisky on Allen as he was sexually assaulted. He described feeling dirty and guilty afterwards, the court heard.
Giving evidence, Allen said he had no sexual interest in boys and thought the complainants were after compensation in the wake of the publicity of his previous convictions.
Allen, who now lives in Suffolk, denied all the charges. He has been convicted of 21 counts of indecent assault, one charge of indecency with a child and four serious sex assaults. He was cleared of two other serious sexual assaults.