Former Chelmsford care worker jailed for sexual abuse on six children

Published November 28, 2014 by JS2

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A FORMER children’s home worker who sexually abused six children more than 40 years ago has been jailed for eight years.

Detectives are now appealing for more victims to come forward following the conviction.

John ‘Jock’ Cowan, 72 now of Lewisham – but who used to live in Chelmsford – was found guilty at Harrow Crown Court of 10 counts of historic indecent assault and one count of gross indecency, committed between 1971 and 1973.

He was found guilty yesterday Thursday, 27 November, and was sentenced today Friday, 28 November.

The offences took place at a children’s home in Ealing where Cowan worked as what was known as a house father for two years before he left in 1973.

It is known Cowan previously lived and worked in and around Chelmsford in Essex in the early 1970s

On Thursday, 3 January 2013, a woman attended Shepherds Bush police station to report an allegation of sexual assault against Cowan that happened when she was aged seven or eight in around 1971 and 1972 in the attic of the home.

She told police she believed Cowan had abused more children in his care.

Enquiries led detectives to identify further victims from the children’s home, five women aged between five and 10 at the time and a man, then aged six.

The man described how on more than one occasion Cowan had taken him from his bed saying the boy needed the toilet. Once inside the bathroom, Cowan sexually assaulted him.

Cowan was traced and arrested on Friday, 26 July 2013 and subsequently charged.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Cathy Hewitson, from the Child Abuse Investigation Team at Northwood, said: “Cowan took advantage of his senior position at the home to abuse a number of vulnerable children, the majority of whom had already suffered heartache and trauma in their short lives and should have been in a trusted environment.

“I praise the courage of the victims in coming forward and reliving this very difficult period in their lives, forced to give evidence in open court by Cowan’s refusal to admit to his crimes.

“Cowan worked in a number of children’s homes in Essex, London and Scotland from the 1970s onwards. It is highly likely there are other victims out there who perhaps have felt too scared to come forward before or thought there was little point given the passage of time.

“Today’s conviction proves it is not too late to bring Cowan to justice and I would ask anyone with information to contact us in confidence.”

Cowan also worked in and around Linlithgow near Edinburgh in the late 1970s and Renfrew near Glasgow and early 1980s.

The jury heard that Cowan has 24 previous convictions for sexual offences against children.

He was jailed for 12-and-a-half years in 1994 on 16 counts and is on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

Anyone who can help is asked to contact the Met’s Child Abuse Investigation Team on 0208 246 1901/3 or, to remain anonymous, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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