Wednesday 28 September 2016

Former wrestler (64) was 'at centre of 'predatory' paedophile ring that abused young boys at sex parties,' jury hears

Published 21/04/2015 | 14:58

The victims were said to have been passed around a group of men, the court heard
The victims were said to have been passed around a group of men, the court heard

A former professional wrestler was at the centre of a "predatory" paedophile ring that abused young boys at sex parties, a jury has heard.

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The victims were said to have been passed around a group of men who visited the homes of Gary Cooke, 64, in the Wrexham area of North Wales in the early to mid 1980s.

One of the defendants who visited Cooke's addresses was teacher and care home owner Roger Griffiths, 76 - a convicted paedophile, Mold Crown Court was told.

Opening the prosecution case, Eleanor Laws QC said: "This case is concerned with the activities of a predatory paedophile ring.

" It would appear that troubled boys and young teenagers would congregate at Cooke's home, where they would watch pornographic movies, would be plied with drink, given a drug - amyl nitrate -and sexually abused. Afterwards, on occasions, they were given money.

"The boys were young, vulnerable, sometimes isolated by family circumstances and manipulated by Gary Cooke and others.

"No doubt chosen for the fact that the defendants could exploit their youth, any difficulties they were in at the time, and groom them using treats, alcohol, cinema trips, car trips, pornography and above all, attention leading to grave sexual abuse.

"At least two of the boys involved in this abuse would appear to have been key in introducing their friends into the defendants' circle."

Cooke, who is also known as Mark Grainger, of Galway Road, Leicester, is accused of 11 indecent assaults, four serious sexual assaults and two counts of indecency with a child. The offences relate to four alleged victims.

Griffiths, of New Broughton, Wrexham, faces two counts of indecent assault against one complainant.

The jury heard that Griffiths owned Gatewen Hall children's home in Wrexham from 1977 to 1983 and was a teacher at Wrexham Special Education Centre, which has since closed down.

Miss Laws said that police records revealed that Griffiths was a convicted sex offender with convictions in 1999 for indecent assault, a serious sexual assault and cruelty to a child.

The victims were aged 16 and in his care at Gatewen Hall, said the prosecutor.

Ex-publican David Lightfoot, 72, from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, is charged with six indecent assaults, three sexual assaults and one count of indecency with a child, in relation to one alleged victim.

Keith Stokes, 62, a then local abattoir boss, from Farndon, Chester, is accused of four indecent assaults, two serious sexual assaults and one count of indecency with a child, all against one complainant.

Former local radio DJ Roy Norry, 54, faces six counts of indecent assault and two serious sexual assaults, relating to two alleged victims.

Ex-bus driver George Phoenix, 63, of New Broughton, Wrexham, is charged with one indecent assault.

Edward Huxley, 70, a former civil servant, from Lower Road, Cookham, Berkshire, faces two counts of indecent assault, in relation to one alleged victim.

One complaint says he was sexually abused by all seven defendants between the ages of 12 and 15.

Another alleged victim was said to have been as young as 11 or 12.

Both Phoenix and Norry were said to be lodgers at various times with Cooke, the jury heard.

Norry was a presenter with North Wales radio station Marcher Sound and also Radio Merseyside.

Stokes did not visit Cooke's home but was introduced to his alleged victim by another boy, while Huxley was said to have been introduced to his alleged victim at Lighfoot's Snowy's Bar in Wrexham.

Huxley was working as a civil servant at the time based at the Army barracks in Wrexham until 1989 when he left the area.

All seven men deny the allegations against them.

The trial, scheduled to last up to eight weeks, continues on Friday.

Press Association

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