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Former children’s home carer jailed for 19 years for abusing children

Stuart Thornton

[A] former children’s home worker from Cowling has been jailed for 19 years with an additional three years to be served on licence for non-recent child sexual abuse at a children’s home in Skipton.

Stuart Thornton, 65, of Cross Street was sentenced at Bradford Crown Court on 7 July 2017 after being found guilty of offences against three boys and one girl at the former home on Carleton Road, which has since closed.

Mr Thornton worked at the home as a volunteer, then as an employed carer between 1971 and 1976 when the offences happened.

He stood trial in May 2017 and was found guilty by jury of six offences of indecent assault on a boy under 14, two offences of gross indecency with a child, two offences of indecent assault and one offence of buggery. The victims were aged between five and 13 at the time of the abuse.

He was also placed on the sex offenders register for life, barred from working with children, and issued with an interim Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Detective Constable Gillian Gowling, who led the investigation, said: “Firstly I would like to acknowledge the victims’ bravery in coming forward and reporting the abuse they suffered as children. It is a difficult thing to do, especially re-living it through the court process. However, their courage means that Thornton is now facing the consequences of his sickening crimes.

“Thornton was employed as a ‘carer’ of children, who, by the very fact that they were in a children’s home, needed protection and care. He abused his position in the most horrific way possible and his victims have had to live with that abuse for years before seeing justice being done. I hope it gives them a small degree of comfort, knowing that he has finally been held accountable for what he did to them.

“Anyone who is a victim of sexual abuse should not hesitate to come forward, regardless of how long ago it happened. It will be fully investigated, you will have the support of specially trained officers, and you will have access to a range of specialist agencies who can provide you with advice and support to help you come to terms with what is a devastating experience.

“Child abuse is everyone’s business and we urge anyone who suspects a child is being abused, to report it. Your information could help form a wider picture of offending and lead to more children being protected.”

To report child abuse, please call the police on 101. If you are in immediate danger, always call 999.

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