Kidnapped English Boy Found Abroad (1960)

Kidnapped English boy Tony Stephens is found on the continent, where his abductor – his school art teacher- had kept him for fifteen months. Tony was 11 when he was taken. His father, a milkman in Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, left his job and dedicated his life to finding Tony. After a year and half’s search, he was successful.



Teacher was a Catholic and into Scouting apparently.

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Filed under Abuse

13 responses to “Kidnapped English Boy Found Abroad (1960)

  1. David Rayner

    I much prefer the word ‘persuade’ to ‘groom’, as grooming once meant rubbing down a horse with a hand held brush, so how it came to mean what it does today, I don’t know. However, one thing you can’t do is to groom or persuade someone to love you. Either they love you or they don’t. Love is nothing if not irrational and no one knows why we love this person and don’t love that person. It’s one of life’s mysteries. It just happens. I believe that Tony must have loved, or at least thought the world of Kevin to do what he did for him, to leave his home and his family and go abroad with him as he did, with no idea if he would ever return.

    We should never make the mistake of believing that no child can feel so strongly about something as Tony did. All children are different. Kevin was very wrong to do what he did and had no hope of getting away with it and was eventually sent to prison for it. However, there was no medical evidence at the time that he had sexually abused Tony and, as unlikely as it seems to our modern way of thinking, it’s quite possible that the relationship between the pair was simply loving in a platonic way.

    As for Kevin having ‘an unhealthy interest in boys’, well, in 1959, people recognised men as having both a healthy and unhealthy interest in them. The difference today is that any interest in boys at all, no matter how innocent it may be in reality, is looked upon by society as ‘unhealthy’ and treated with great suspicion. Such has been the result during the past thirty years or so of the media induced paranoia on a society that has lost sight of the fact that there are always two sides to every coin and not all men who take an interest in boys want to sodomise them.

    From what I’ve read, Kevin simply wanted to set up a Crusader Christian scout movement with Tony as the head Crusader in the hope of spreading the movement throughout the world. An admirable idea that looked fine on the face of it, but that when he tried to make it work, it fell down flat. At 68 years of age, I’ve lived long enough now to know that sometimes, things can look to be one way and turn out to be another way entirely.

  2. David Rayner

    I found some photos of Tony Stephens and Kevin Tracy on the Rex Features website, unfortunately with the Rex watermark on them. In one of them, Tony appears to be pleading with someone off camera not to take Kevin away from him. Tony and his parents were flown back from West Germany in a small private plane that landed at Leicester Airport, while Kevin was flown back on a commercial airliner to London Airport, now called Heathrow. The fact that Tony is all smiles at home and on the newsreel may be because he was told that he would soon be reunited with Kevin and was only told much later that Kevin had been arrested and was in prison on remand, news that must have gone down like a lead balloon with Tony.

    • Regardless of how Tony felt or feels looking back, I think it is fairly obvious that he had been groomed. News stories from the trial are quite clear that Tony’s father had forbade contact between his son and Mr Tracy and had spoken to the headmaster regarding the content in a letter. We don’t know the nature of the content only that it prompted this response which was quite extreme for its time.

      Tony was not of an age to consent to run off with My Tracy and there are no circumstances which might have condoned Mr Tracy’s actions. If Mr Tracy had concerns regarding Tony’s safety and wellbeing he should have reported it to the authorities.

      Without more information it is impossible to say what happened. However, I know what it looks like. It looks like Mr Tracy had/has an unhealthy sexual interest in young boys generally and that he groomed Tony and fled with him abroad. Offenders will often try and justify their actions and behaviour, “he was like a brother/son to me.” or ” I was just trying to help/befriend him.” or “I was just trying to teach him about life/growing up/ the ways of men.” It is delusional self justification for illegal behaviour.

  3. David Rayner

    When Tony left his home in Earl Shilton in March, 1959, on his red and white bicycle to cycle to Nuneaton railway station, he would have to cycle around ten miles to get there. Now there was one hell of a determined young boy.

  4. David Rayner

    This was a very odd case. Although Kevin Tracey was charged with kidnapping Tony Stephens, this was the only possible charge the law could bring against him under the circumstances. In actuality, Tony wasn’t really kidnapped at all. His parents found out that there was something going on between the pair after they read the contents of a letter found in Tony’s bedroom that Tony had written to Kevin. The parents were so concerned about the contents of the letter that they forbade Kevin ever to see Tony again. Kevin agreed to this, but secretly, he and Tony were planning to defy the parents by going off together and used much subterfuge to achieve this, even to the extent of obtaining passports under false names.

    I have seen photos of Tony and Kevin hugging each other and they look like two people who think the world of each other. So what must Tony have been feeling in the above newsreel clip after he’d been found and taken home and his friend was arrested and sent to prison for kidnapping him? One other thing is clear. Tony thought so much of Kevin that his feelings for the man apparently over rode any concern about the feelings of his parents, who must have been worried sick about him.

    As I said at the beginning, this is an unusual case and I’ve only heard of one other case like it during the past 56 years and that was about three years ago when that English schoolgirl ran off to France with her teacher, who was also sent to jail for kidnapping her after the couple were eventually found and brought back. As Tony and Kevin were obviously very close, it would be interesting to find out if they kept in touch after Kevin was released from prison.

  5. dpack

    history is a fascinating subject and can have relevance to the present and future.

  6. Tony J.

    An outrageously short sentence on the face of it. The judge was no doubt entirely sympathetic to the defendant’s plight…

  7. The Count Of Monte Cristo

    What about the sister?

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  9. Sabre

    Is it genuine?, all seemed a bit ” by Jove damned inconvenient” no hint of anything sinister