Category Archives: Police Operations

The Henriques Report

(Click images to open)

Pages 1 – 67
Chapter One of the Review, covering Terms of Reference, Background, Scope and Recommendations:-


Pages 68 – 73
Summary of Recommendations:-


Pages 74 – 85
Sir Richard’s conclusions and Principal Police Failings on Operation Midland:-


For completeness, this is the covering letter Sir Richard Henriques sent with his full report (491 pages);


And this the statement from the MET Police;

The Henriques Report (and the other documents) can be found HERE


Filed under Abuse, Police Operations

Op Midland Complainant ‘Nick’ To Be Investigated For Perverting The Course Of Justice

This document can be found HERE



Filed under Abuse, Police Operations

Operation Stranger: Walter Ballantyne

We have no photograph of Walter Ballantyne – If anyone can find one we’d be grateful


Under Operation Stranger the following twelve men, who had preyed on runaway boys, were convicted. This network became known as the ‘Dirty Dozen’.

Walter Ballantyne, 46; a stallholder at Dalston Market and one of the ringleaders of the network was given 6.5 years
Leonard William Smith, 31, was sentenced to 30 months;
Sidney Charles Cooke, 59, remanded for bail reports / got 2 years
Simon Haeems, 35, was sentenced to 2 years
Colin Byrne, 18, was sentenced to 1 year probation
Daniel Paine, 33, was sentenced to 2 years;
Roy Alan Morris, 26, was sentenced to 30 months,
Alfred Goddard, 58, was sentenced to 2 years;
John Thornton, 36, was sentenced to 8 years
John Stead, 23, was sentenced to 5 years;
Edward Talbot, 47, was sentenced to 1 year;
Brian Turner, was sentenced to 5 years

Walter Ballantyne and Brian Turner appealed.

(Prior to publishing, victims’ names have been redacted).

1988] EWCA Crim J1111-11


Friday, 11th November 1988

The Lord Chief Justice of England (Lord Lane)



Brian Turner

and Walter Ballantyne

(Transcript of the Shorthand Notes of Marten Walsh Cherer Ltd., Pemberton House, East Harding Street, London, EC4A 3AS. Telephone Number: 01-583 7635. Shorthand Writers to the Court.)

MR. D. MARTIN-SPERRY appeared on behalf of the Appellant Turner and the Applicant Ballantyne.


(As approved by judge)

MR. JUSTICE FARQUHARSON: We will deal with the case of the appellant Brian Turner and the application of Walter Ballantyne together as they emerge from the same indictment.

They were convicted after an 18-day trial at the Central Criminal Court in May and June of last year, and were sentenced by His Honour Judge Underhill on 4th June 1987. Turner was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit buggery, in respect of which there was imposed a term of two years imprisonment, and on another count of indecent assault on a male, for which he received a further term of three years, expressed as being consecutive to the two years. The total amount was five years in all.

The applicant Ballantyne was also convicted on two, although different, counts. The first of those was one of attempted buggery. For that he received a sentence of four years imprisonment. On a further count of conspiracy to commit an indecent assault upon a male person, he received a consecutive sentence of two years imprisonment. He was at the time subject to a suspended sentence for an earlier offence of indecent assault. Three months of that sentence was implemented, and each of them was expressed to be consecutive, so that he received a total sentence of six and a half years imprisonment.

The facts of the case were quite appalling and involved not only this appellant and this applicant, but a number of other men who were in fact trading in young boys for sexual use. The boy who was involved in the offences for which these two were convicted was called [redacted]. At the time of the offences against him he was some [redacted] years of age.

He frequently had run away from home when he was younger. In September 1985 he ran away to Dalston Market, where Ballantyne was a stall holder. According to the evidence he gave to the Court, [redacted] asked Ballantyne if he could stay at his house. Ballantyne agreed and led him to his flat at Stoke Newington, having instructed the boy to walk behind him in case the police were observing them.

According to the boy, he had no previous experience of sex. On the first night at Ballantyne’s flat he was sleeping on the couch when he felt Ballantyne attempting to bugger him, but the act was not completed. That was the subject of the first count against Ballantyne.

On another occasion, when he went to the market with Ballantyne, he was introduced to a friend of the applicant called Smith. As a result of that introduction he stayed with Smith in Hackney for a week, there being the subject of various sexual practices on the part of Smith, including acts of buggery. It appears from the account given by [redacted] that Ballantyne had mentioned to him that he could earn money from sexual activity.

Smith was not the only person to whom the boy was introduced by Ballantyne. There were several other people. One in particular was the appellant Turner. According to the evidence he gave, which formed admittedly a very small part of his account of the men he was involved with, he had spent the day with the appellant Turner, where he had been the subject of certain indecent acts involving mutual masturbation.

Following on these activities, [redacted] was introduced to what might be described as another circle of homosexuals at the centre of which was a man called Thornton. Thornton lived at Croydon. Not only was [redacted] allowed to live there, but so were other boys, including one named [redacted], who was exactly the same age. Over a period of time these boys were the subject of sexual activities on the part of Thornton and a number of Thornton’s friends. These men appeared with the present appellant and applicant at the Central Criminal Court in the same trial last year. During these activities it appears that when the police were investigating the activities of these men, the boys were hidden, so that these offences went on for much longer than they otherwise would.

Turning to the records of this applicant and this appellant, dealing first with Turner, he has been convicted on a number of occasions, some six in all, of various sexual offences, usually involving male persons. It is right to say as has been urged on his behalf by Mr. Martin-Sperry before us, that the last of those convictions was in September 1975.

Ballantyne has also been convicted of a number of offences, in his case rather more serious ones, including previous convictions for buggery in 1973 at the Central Criminal Court when he received a term of five years imprisonment. I have already mentioned the suspended sentence which was in force at the time of his conviction. That had involved an indecent assault on a 13-year old boy.

The appeal of Turner, and indeed of Thornton and others against conviction was earlier this year before another Division of this Court. Whilst his appeal against conviction was dismissed, Turner was given leave to appeal against sentence.

The first point that is made on his behalf is one of comparison between the sentence passed upon him and that passed upon Thornton.

Thornton was convicted of an offence of buggery and of an indecent assault on a male person. There was no doubt at all that those were specimen counts. For those offences he was sentenced to terms of four years imprisonment and three years imprisonment consecutively. Before the Court of Appeal the second of those sentences was reduced to a term of eighteen months. So instead of serving seven years for these sexual offence convictions, he will only serve five and a half years.

It is undoubtedly the case that Thornton’s abuse of these young people went on for a considerable period of time. It is urged upon us by way of comparison with that sentence that in Turner’s case it was only proved against him that he had offended on a single occasion on one day and therefore the similarity between the five and a half years on Thornton and the five years passed on Turner calls for amendment.

The other matter urged on behalf of Turner was that the boy [redacted] was already corrupted when he came into Turner’s hands. That perhaps is not a very powerful ground.

In all the circumstances, notwithstanding the earlier convictions of Turner, we feel that there is some substance in the complaint made on his behalf. If one compares his one series of acts on one day with the offences committed by Thornton, then there is evidencely not sufficient difference between the two sentences so as properly to reflect the criminality of the two of them. For those reasons we propose to alter the sentences upon Turner.

One argument advanced before us by Mr. Martin-Sperry is that as both the conspiracy and the indecent assault were committed by Turner on the same occasion, both charges involving the same facts, it really would be proper for those sentences to be expressed as concurrent sentences rather than consecutive ones. We think there is force also in that submission.

However we are not persuaded that the total sentence to be passed on Turner should be only three years, which would be the case if his existing sentences were made concurrent. We have come to the conclusion that a sentence of four years imprisonment for the offences which he committed would be right and properly comparable with the other sentences passed. We therefore propose to quash the sentences passed upon him and substitute therefor terms of imprisonment of four years on each of the two counts upon which he was convicted and order that they should be served concurrently.

I turn to the case of Ballantyne, who, it will be recalled, was sentenced to a total term of six and a half years imprisonment. Ballantyne was in a much more serious position than Turner. He it was who first corrupted [redacted] by taking him to his flat and immediately attempting to commit an act of buggery; and he had, if one can use the expression, handed him round to his friends for sexual purposes. Whether that represents an abuse of his position of trust is something which it is not necessary to comment upon, but the very nature of his activities were such as to merit the condemnation of everybody.

Having looked at the full nature of his offences, this Court takes the view that the sentences passed upon him were correct and accordingly his applications both for an extension of time and for leave to appeal against sentence are refused.

Twelve years following this appeal and after he’d served his sentence in 2000 Walter Ballantyne makes the news once again.

Originally from The Sunday People

The Evil Pied Piper

YOUNG boys gather round in delight as the chatty, cuddly older man entertains them with his harmonica… It looks like an innocent family scene at a riverside leisure park.

But we can reveal that the harmonica player is a convicted paedophile who was once a member of Britain’s worst child-sex gang dubbed The Dirty Dozen.

Pot-bellied pervert Walter Ballantyne, 60, booked into the leisure park under a false name. And like an evil pied piper, he used his harmonica and magic tricks to entrap youngsters for sex abuse.

Mums and children at the picnic benches were blissfully unaware the harmless-looking “entertainer” has a long history of molesting young boys and is a deadly accomplice of Britain’s most hated men, child-sex killers Sidney Cooke, Lennie Smith and Robert Oliver.

Ballantyne’s perverted gaze lingered for hours over the half-naked boys at Roydon Mill leisure park and camp site in Hertfordshire.

But the slimeball was unaware that HE was being watched – by Sunday People investigators. He openly admitted to us at the campsite that he was there to hunt child victims, and told us how he’d changed his name to evade police. He also sickenly boasted of getting away with abusing a string of young children over the last 10 years.

But while the rest of Britain agonised over what to do about the paedophile threat, this newspaper took firm action to halt Ballantyne’s disgusting behaviour.

We had him: BOOTED out of the leisure park. WARNED other leisure sites in the area of his evil presence.

TIPPED OFF the police child protection unit in East London, where Ballantyne lives, that this vile sexual predator is on the prowl once more hunting children.Mum-of-two Julie French, 42, who was on a three-day break at Roydon Mill with another single mum and a total of four children, told us: “You can’t imagine how pleased we were when you got rid of him. “Call it a mother’s instinct, but I thought there was something strange about him. “He spent hours just staring at my kids and kept walking past our tent playing a harmonica.

“We warned the kids to stay away from him but he was very persistent and started to turn nasty when we called the kids away from him.” Her friend Julie White, 37, added: “We were getting scared. Whenever we looked around he seemed to be there.” The authorities lost track of serial-offender Ballantyne years ago.

Because his last conviction was before 1997 he is not required to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register and police have been powerless to monitor his movements. He has served three jail terms for abusing young boys – the last in 1987 when he got six years as ring-leader of a child-sex network which preyed on runaways. The boys had been hawked around “safe houses” and passed on to other members of the gang which included council porter Alfred Goddard, father of 1980s pop star Adam Ant. Since then Ballantyne, who now calls himself Mark Bailey, appears to have kept out of trouble.

But the Sunday People can reveal that his sickening behaviour has not changed. The vile pervert has been an active paedophile since his release from prison in 1990.

He keeps a low profile but regularly meets other members of the Dirty Dozen paedophile gang who are now free and living in the same area.

Our investigators got on Ballantyne’s trail at a London street market where he runs a stall selling kiddies’ harmonicas and toys. He lives in a grubby bedsit in East London where neighbours are unaware of his squalid history. He told our investigators: “Since getting parole after my last spot of trouble I have changed my name a few times and moved around.”I still like chickens (perverts’ slang for under-age boys) but I don’t get the opportunities I did in the old days.

“I haven’t been caught for years now and I want to keep it that way. “Cruising is a lot more difficult than it used to be. Now they are closing down all the cottages (public toilets) you only have the parks and swimming pools left.” Ballantyne sells his cheap harmonicas at various street markets in London. He bragged: “I have learned to play a few tunes myself to entertain the kids.”I only have to sit down somewhere and start playing and soon they are all around me. “Parents warn them about not approaching strangers but the kids love my music and party tricks.” Frighteningly, the pervert gets young boys to help him at Sunday markets by offering them free toys.

Ballantyne boasted: “I have got this 11-year-old Bengali boy in tow at the moment. “He has worked for me for a year although I haven’t tried anything…yet. “At my time of life I have got plenty of patience and can wait till I make sure the time is right. “He wants to go bike riding with me so one day I’ll take him somewhere quiet.” The pervert added: “I am going away for a few days to another holiday park in Hertfordshire next week and I wish I could take him with me.

“I have been there before and there is a lot of potential. “They have got everything – playground, paddling pool and sandy beach. “I am not on the sex offenders’ register but even so I hope no one drags my name up again.” Unlike other holidaymakers at Roydon Mill, Ballantyne turned up without any fishing tackle, sports or picnic equipment. He pitched his tent within yards of a group of children playing shuttlecock on the riverbank.

He then headed off to watch youngsters swimming and riding boats on the lake and finally settled at a picnic bench in the centre of the crowded artificial beach. Ballantyne sat staring for hours, transfixed by children clambering about on the swings and climbing frames. He decided to try to attract their attention by striking up a tune on one of his harmonicas.

He told our undercover investigator: “This is a great place for kids and sometimes the temptations drive me crazy.

“The last time I was here I met two boys aged 11 and six. “I wanted to see them again but they checked out the next day. “Then there was this l5-year-old from Switzerland who bought a harmonica from me.” Ballantyne added: “I have often fancied going abroad to have a look around.

“I have got a pal who lives in Leytonstone and goes out to Africa all the time. “He has a great time because he says he is much more relaxed. “Here it is difficult when you know you are doing wrong and might get caught.” The disgusting pervert spent time lurking around the park’s shower and toilet unit. He paused to watch a lad in his early teens struggling to put on a pair of bathing shorts behind a bush. Our sickened investigators decided they had enough evidence to have Ballantyne thrown out and we alerted the park management.

The appalled owner of Roydon Mill, Dave Davison, immediately sent staff to escort him away from the children’s beach area and stood watching him pack up and leave. He was refunded his money for the planned three-night stay and told in no uncertain terms not to return.

His description and a warning were then circulated to other holiday camp sites within the Lea Valley Regional Park.

The Sunday People dossier on Ballantyne’s sordid activities is available to Scotland Yard’s Paedophile Unit and Tower Hamlets borough council which grants him the licence to run his market stall.

The Free Library


Filed under Abuse, News, Police Operations

Timeline: Sidney Cooke And Associates


Click on image to enlarge

8th Apr 1961 Sidney Cooke is fined £20 for indecently assaulting a boy in a cinema. Until convicted in 1987 for the “dirty dozen” offences this was Cooke’s only conviction for a sexual offence.


Sidney Cooke

1973 Leslie Bailey is accused of the attempted murder and indecent assault of a seven year old girl but confusion over the admissability of evidence meant the charge was reduced to possessing a knife. Bailey was given probation for possessing an offensive weapon and spent three months in a mental hospital in Kent after the incident.

1977  Lennie Smith is convicted for an offence of gross indecency and serves a year in prison.

1977  Robert Oliver receives a four year prison sentence for gross indecency offences.

29th Mar 1979 Leslie Bailey’s trial for burgling a post office near his home in Brooke Road, Stoke Newington, is adjourned until today. Bailey told police he had been out job hunting when he stopped to admire a Rolls outside Harrods. An Arab in flowing robes hurried towards the car and stepped from the pavement into the path of a taxi. “I grabbed him to stop him being run down and pulled him back to safety”. The Arab, wished him a thousand thanks, and took him to the Rolls where he opened a briefcase and handed over bundles of £20 notes. Then the car sped away. The outcome of the trial and date the offence was committed is unknown.

10th Dec 1979 Leslie Bailey is jailed for five years for a serious sexual assault on a woman. On 1st March 1978 the young woman was returning to her flat at the Barbican one night when Bailey – who worked as a security guard on a building site at the Barbican at the time – assaulted her at knifepoint. Bailey was arrested for the offence on 28th June 1978. As a report was submitted by a Prison Governor at Bailey’s trial it is highly probable that Bailey was remanded into prison custody after being charged for the offence. Virtually illiterate, it was revealed at the trial that Bailey had an IQ of 67.
Bailey appealed against his conviction, however his appeal was dismissed on 25th November 1980

1981 Robert Oliver receives a one year prison sentence for a sexual offence.

Early 1980’s Lennie Smith bases himself in Birmingham, and serves a year in prison for burglary, theft and criminal damage offences.

1st June 1984 Mark Tildesley, aged 7, is abducted from the Frank Ayers’ fairground in Wokingham, Berkshire. Leslie Bailey was later to claim that Lennie Smith strangled the boy and Sidney Cooke disposed of the body. Mark’s body has never been found. Known to be present were Cooke, Bailey, Lennie Smith and a relative of Bailey known as “Oddbod”.


Mark Tildesley

7th June 1984 Mark Tildesley’s disappearance was mentioned on the first ever episode of BBC Crimewatch.

7th June 1984 Following two tip offs naming a “strange man”, fairground worker Martin Earley is questioned about Mark’s disappearance. Earley confessed and retracted his confession several times, continually changed his story and was also unable to even describe Mark then finally denied that he had ever seen him. Sent to a psychiatric unit for observation and later released, Earley was tracked by a surveillance team but did nothing to re-arouse suspicion. Forensic scientists examined Earley’s caravan but found nothing. Earley returned to work at the fair. In 1993 Earley and two other fairground workers were convicted of the 1992 buggery of another 17 year old fairground worker.

June 1984  Jason Swift makes a formal complaint to police that he has been sexually assaulted by a “well-to-do” film editor. The man was arrested but Jason later withdrew the complaint without offering a reason. Speaking to this man again after Jason’s death, police were pointed towards London’s West End.

6th July 1984 Leslie Bailey is fined £30 for handling a stolen insurance certificate, an offence for which he had been arrested on 1st June, the night Mark Tildesley disappeared.

16th Aug 1984 Following a call from a fairground worker police visit Sidney Cooke but, as a result of an alibi given by a fair owner Rosie Gray, Cooke remained on file but was eliminated as a suspect.

13th June 1985  Mark Tildesley’s disappearance is featured again on BBC Crimewatch, including a full reconstruction of his last movements. This brought a huge public response, of 1,200 calls and 2,500 potential leads, but little concrete evidence emerged.

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Jason Swift

6th July 1985 Jason Swift, aged 14, is reported missing by his sister. Jason had been living with her at 28A Edwy House on the Kingsmead estate.

15th Sept 1985 Barry Lewis, aged 6, is abducted from Walworth in South London.

Nov 1985 Hackney police raid 70 Templemead (Lennie Smith’s flat) on the Kingsmead Estate after a tip off (by Sidney Cooke) that a 13 year old was being abused there by Robert Oliver and Lennie Smith

30th Nov 1985 Jason Swift’s body is discovered by a farm worker in Stapleford Tawney, Essex. It was thought that Jason was probably killed on 27th November 1985 and asphyxia was the cause of death, probably as a result of suffocation.

2nd Dec 1985  After trying to entice a 13 year old boy into his blue Jaguar car on this date, Sidney Cooke (living on the Sherrers Wharf estate in Hackney at the time) is arrested a week later. He was released on bail to appear at Hackney Police Station on 8th January. Though his file was sent to the CPS he was never charged in connection with this incident. Questioned too about Jason Swift, Cooke’s home is searched and his car examined, but it was decided not to send the vehicle away for further tests.


Barry Lewis

5th Dec 1985 Barry Lewis’ body is discovered by a farmer in an Essex field known as Monkham’s Park (10 miles from where Jason’s body was found) The cause of death was given as probably asphyxia.

31st Dec 1985 Sidney Cooke makes an anonymous call to the police a month after Jason’s body was found saying: “I just want to say it shouldn’t have happened like that. I want you to know it was an accident.I’m the man you are all looking for”

Jan 1986 Police in Leeds are sent anonymously a tape recording of a man describing Jason Swift’s murder. The man claimed Jason had been picked up by his killer at Barclays Brothers, a cafe directly opposite the Houses of Parliament. For days officers filmed the cafe but the stake-out was abandoned without result. The man who made the tape was traced, and found to be a hoaxer.

17th Jan 1986 Operation Stranger is launched. This was a joint operation between Essex police and the Met and for the first time in a murder enquiry the HOLMES computer was utilised.
Three strands fell under the operation- the Brent (baby sitting) inquiry, Jason Swift and the “dirty dozen” ring.
In the first twelve months of the inquiry nearly 3,000 questionnaires were completed, 839 statements taken, 400 reports submitted, checked and logged, 1.400 messages from the public evaluated, and countless suspects interviewed. The Jason Swift suspects became the first ever to be officially interviewed on tape in England.

10th February 1986 Having traced the 13 year old boy they had failed to find the previous November, Sidney Cooke and Lennie Smith are arrested and remanded to prison for “dirty dozen” related offences. Smith was released at the committal proceedings relating to the Jason Swift trial in February 1988. Cooke has remained in custody ever since.

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16th April 1986 Operation Stranger is made public at a press conference when, for the first time, the murders of Jason and Barry are officially linked.

21st April 1986 A special national conference was convened at Scotland Yard, which was attended by the heads of CID in all police forces in the UK. Arranged by Commander Corbett of Scotland Yard’s criminal intelligence unit, its purpose was to discuss child killings and abductions. Of all the (many) cases discussed, three cases in particular attracted the attention of the men from Operation Stranger – Mark Tildesley, Vishal Mehrotra and a Brighton boy who had been viciously assaulted in 1983.

7th May 1986 Second post-mortems are performed by Prof Austin Gresham on the bodies of Jason Swift and Barry Lewis. Prof Gresham’s findings with regards to injuries inflicted on Jason contrasted markedly with the original post-mortem findings and detectives realise they are hunting for a gang of men, not just one.

Summer 1986 Lennie Smith is interviewed in Brixton prison over a sighting of Jason Swift leaving his Templemead flat.

26th Nov 1986  David Bright (accompanied by DS Terry Cook) interviews Sidney Cooke in Brixton prison. Cooke had been bragging in the exercise yard to another prisoner called John Buckle (may not be his true name) about his exploits with children, had also talked about the death of Jason Swift and the inmate was so sickened he had got a message to the police.


Sidney Cooke

5th June 1987 The “dirty dozen” are convicted. Sidney Cooke receives a two year sentence, and Lennie Smith receives 30 months.


Robert Oliver

24th June 1987 Robert Oliver is arrested and charged with indecency charges related to the Brent baby-sitting inquiry (which had come to light Easter 1987), and Jason Swift. At some point police had been keeping a casual observation on a shoe shop in Mare Street (where Oliver worked on Fridays) and a cafe called Mungo’s in the East End. When arrested both Oliver and Leslie Bailey were staying at the home of Leslie Bailey’s mother. Whilst being interviewed Oliver claims to have known Jason Swift through Lennie Smith and Sidney Cooke, and to have also seen Jason in the shoe shop. Significantly, when Oliver’s room at a flat in Hackney was searched, four empty containers of Diazepam- the drug used to subdue both Jason and Barry- were found.

29th June 1987 Robert Oliver is remanded into custody suspected of grave offences against Jason Swift

21st July 1987 Mulling over Robert Oliver’s story, detectives remember Leslie Bailey, and Bailey and Steven Barrell (now living in Dagenham, and who Bailey was living with in 1985) are arrested and charged on suspicion of murdering Jason Swift. Bailey claims to have met Robert Oliver for the first time in November 1985 and, at the time, Oliver was lodging (along with a mini-cab driver called Dave) at 36 Ashmead with Donald Smith. Bailey names the men present on the day Jason was killed, and tells police that another boy was also present in the room when Jason was killed, and the boy left afterwards with Robert Oliver. This second boy was never traced or identified but the general belief was that he genuinely existed. Bailey is remanded into custody. Barrell, with no previous convictions, is granted bail.

22nd July 1987 Donald Smith, the tenant of 36 Ashmead (since 1980) is arrested and interviewed by Detective Constables Ken Forster and Ernie Carr.

26th July 1987 Donald Smith is charged

28th July 1987 Sidney Cooke is again questioned over two days and confesses to his involvement in the death of Jason Swift. Cooke claims he was invited to a “gang bang” by Robert Oliver, Lennie Smith brought Jason to the flat, and there were six men in total present.

3rd August 1987 Sidney Cooke, having completed his sentence for the Dirty Dozen offences, is released. Immediately arrested outside the prison gates he is charged (along with Robert Oliver) with the murder of Jason Swift and immediately remanded back into custody.

6th Aug 1987 Lennie Smith is again interviewed. he tells police he had been picked up as a rent boy by both Sidney Cooke and Donald Smith but flatly refused to discuss Jason Swift, answering each question with “no comment”.

28th Sept 1987 Robert Oliver pleads guilty to a charge arising out of the Brent inquiry and is given a three months prison sentence.

23rd Oct 1987 Lennie Smith, having completed his sentence for the “dirty dozen” offences, is released from prison. Immediately arrested outside the prison gates he is charged with the murder of Jason Swift on the following day and remanded back into custody until trial.

15th Feb 1988 Committal proceedings commence against Sidney Cooke, Robert Oliver, Leslie Bailey, Lennie Smith and Donald Smith, lasting for three days and then adjourned till April.


Leslie Bailey

April 1988 Leslie Bailey and Robert Oliver are committed for trial on charges of murder, conspiracy to bugger and gross indecency. Donald Smith, Cooke and Barrell are sent for trial on manslaughter charges. Charges against Lennie Smith have already been dropped.

20th Feb 1989 The jury is sworn in and is then immediately discharged, with several weeks of legal argument ensuing. Murder charges against Bailey and Oliver are reduced to that of manslaughter

15th March 1989 The case against Donald Smith is discharged.

12th May 1989 Sidney Cooke, Leslie Bailey, Robert Oliver and Stephen Barrell are convicted of the manslaughter of Jason Swift, receiving sentences totalling 174 years. As all sentences were to run concurrently, they were jailed for 19, 15, 15 and 13.5 years respectively.  It is said at the trial that Cooke and Oliver knew Lennie Smith well, and Bailey and Barrell knew each other well too. It was also stated that Jason had become involved with Lennie Smith, who handed Jason on to Sidney Cooke because he feared police were taking an unhealthy interest in him.

Operation Stranger is wound up.

10th August 1989 The cellmate of Leslie Bailey, Ian Gabb approaches a prison officer, shows him a notebook which details further confessions by Bailey and the officer rings Roger Stoodley.


Ian Gabb

16th Aug 1989 Disguised as a vicar, DI Bob Brown visits Ian Gabb in Wandsworth prison. Police decide to take Gabb up on his offer of further assistance and he subsequently also shares a cell with Robert Oliver and, very briefly, with Sidney Cooke. At least three other prison informants were also to be utilised in the same way

16th August 1989 Operation Orchid is launched to investigate the murders of other missing boys, including Barry Lewis and Mark Tildesley as a result of the information provided by Ian Gabb. Gabb lists 20 men involved in the same gang, 11 of them he identifies by name, the others by description. Gabb also recorded 8 burial sites described to him by Bailey. Steven aged 13 and Paul aged 11 are mntioned, both buried near a slip road in the West End. The graves of 4 more unnamed boys are given as being in Walthamstow cemetery, beneath Brighton Pier, in the grounds of a disused synagogue school in Hackney and another in the Walthamstow area beside a pub. Bailey later gave another prison informant “Adale” names of boys he said he had murdered – David, Mat, Micky, George, Paul, Gerry, Johnny, Jimmy and “that gypsy kid”. “Adale” made rough sketches of where Bailey said the bodies were buried.

3rd Nov 1989 Gabb shares a cell with Robert Oliver, and until 5th January 1990. To give the Orchid squad the “quality control” that they craved, moves were made to bug the cell, however a senior officer took a different view and plans to bug were abandoned.

Late 1989 Amongst other cases the Orchid squad were checking was Vishal Mehrotra and although a meeting was held with police in Surrey it was said that nothing emerged that could shed any more light on his death. The 1983 Brighton attack was also again looked at after, time and again, Brighton was mentioned in Ian Gabb’s letters.

29th Nov 1989 Gabb alerts police to the fact that Cooke is to apply to regain his diaries. The diaries – which contained details of the fairs Cooke had worked at over a number of years- were tracked down by the Orchid squad.

15th Feb 1990 Gabb shares a cell with Sidney Cooke for 48 hours.

2nd May 1990 Under police surveillance at the time, Lennie Smith is arrested for indecent assault and given a 3 year sentence. Whilst serving the 3 year sentence for indecent assault Smith was interviewed with regards to other offences involving a six year old boy.

1990  Throughout 1990 Roger Stoodley used the tabloids to alert the gang to the extent of Bailey’s confessions, and to sow seeds of suspicion and the fear of future discovery in their minds. Various reporters were fed regular snippets of information, which were “a mixture of truths, half-truths and downright inaccuracies”, deliberately planted to alarm and confuse those suspects both inside and outside prison and press speculation and exaggerations were deliberately not corrected. This disinformation campaign also had the effect of keeping the boys deaths on the front pages many years after they had happened in the hope that some members of the public might suddenly recall a vital piece of information and come forward.

21st May 1990 Leslie Bailey is taken by detectives to a cemetery on Lea Bridge Road. One of “Adale’s” maps referred to this same cemetery that had been detailed as a site in the Ian Gabb notebook however Bailey told detectives they had the wrong site and instead identified a car park at Clapton Common which had been an old graveyard called the Satmar Cemetery. Bailey was too vague at half a dozen other places thought to match Gabb’s description of burial sites but detectives did start digging at the Lea Bridge Road car park on 24th May 1990. Fragments of bone were sent to zoology experts at the University of London but were found to be animal, not human.

5th June 1990 “Adale” tells detectives that Bailey has told him details about Barry Lewis, and Bailey is taken to Stoke Newington police station. Later that month Bailey is questioned again, confesses to the murder of Barry, demonstrates how he killed him and detectives then knew they were talking to Barry’s killer.

12th May 1990 Bailey is taken back to the Kingsmead Estate and tells detectives he knew seven or eight men present at the orgy involving Barry, “but there were more”.

21st July 1990 By then having shaved off his moustache and lightened his hair, no witnesses could pick out Bailey at an identity parade.

30th July 1990 Leslie Bailey is charged with the murder of Barry Lewis at Highbury Magistrates Court and taken straight back to Stoke Newington to be now questioned about Mark Tildesley. Detectives begin re-interviewing Barrell, Cooke and Oliver about the crimes Bailey had said they had been involved with. A man who may have attended the Ashmead parties was traced to Aberdeen but there was no firm proof that he had been there. Men in Newcastle Upon Tyne, Durham and Wales were also visited but, again, their inquiries bore them no fruit.

5th Aug 1990 Bailey is back in Wandsworth for a few days then moved to a secure unit at another police station where detectives began a series of interviews that were to last for almost a year. Gradually Bailey told the full story of Mark Tildesley’s death. Orchid and Thames Valley detectives started operating on the case as a joint squad.


Lennie Smith

May 1991 Lennie Smith is released from prison, immediately charged with offences involving the 6 year old boy and remanded back into custody pending trial.

May 1991 The first of a total of sixty four interviews with Sidney Cooke commences. During one interview Cooke describes in the most minute detail what he had done to Barry at 36 Ashmead.

14th June 1991 Leslie Bailey pleads guilty to the murder of Barry Lewis. Bailey’s conviction led to Sidney Cooke, Robert Oliver and Stephen Barrell appealing against the sentences they had received for the killing of Jason Swift.
It was revealed in court that Bailey had identified the names of seven or eight men who had participated in the orgy involving Barry, and that Bailey had been introduced to homosexual orgies by Lennie Smith and Donald Smith, meeting Robert Oliver and Sidney Cooke at a later date. Sometime after admitting to killing Barry, Bailey guided detectives to a thicket beside a cottage in Chipping Ongar where Bailey claimed he had buried another body. Describing this boy as a 13/14 year old “Paki boy” whose name was Hassan, Bailey revealed that Hassan too had been brought to 36 Ashmead for another “party” where about sixteen men were present. Again, the Orchid squad decided to dig up the area but this too proved to be fruitless. Bailey also confessed that another boy – who became known as the “unknown boy” because there was no clue as to his identity – was also killed at 36 Ashmead. His body, Bailey said, was disposed of by one of the gang in Chingford. .

Summer 1991 A man related to Leslie Bailey is interviewed in prison to see if he knows anything about Bailey’s associates, and detectives also visit the man’s family. The man  was to claim that he had seen both Cooke and Lennie Smith carry Jason’s body into the back of Cooke’s Jaguar and had confronted them both in a pub several days later. His evidence was regarded as vital, particularly with regards to Lennie Smith’s involvement, but had to be treated with extreme caution because he too was a convicted sex offender.
Donald Smith admits to detectives that he was present at the Jason Swift orgy and, as well as naming Cooke, Bailey and Oliver – all already in prison for the crime- he also named Lennie Smith and another man who had not been convicted. He also then described the Barry Lewis orgy. Eddie Gough’s name frequently cropping up, Roget Stoodley turned to the CPS for advice on charging him.

3rd Aug 1991 A witness who claimed to have seen Sidney Cooke in a candy shop with Mark Tildesley picks him out in an ID parade. A lorry driver who gave Cooke a lift that day and another witness also pick him out.

31st August 1991 Edward Gough is charged with the manslaughter of Jason Swift. The charge was later amended by the CPS to conspiracy to seriously sexually assault and indecently assault Jason Swift immediately prior to his death in 1985.

10th Oct 1991 Leslie Bailey is formally accused of murdering Mark Tildesley.

1st Nov 1991  Donald Smith, who had previously refused to elaborate, tells police that he wants to talk about Jason Swift because, now dying of cancer, he wants to tell the truth. He is then interviewed over a three day period.

21st Feb 1992  On the basis of Bailey admitting his involvement in the deaths of Barry Lewis and Mark Tildesley, coupled with claims that he was the ringleader of the gang, the Court of Appeal reduces the sentences of Sidney Cooke and Stephen Barrell. Robert Oliver’s appeal is dismissed.

7th Oct 1992 Papers outlining cases against Lennie Smith with regards to Jason Swift, and Sidney Cooke with regards to Mark Tildesley having previously been submitted to the CPS, it decided that, whilst evidence existed, a prosecution against Smith and Cooke would fail because it relied too heavily on Leslie Bailey’s evidence, and Bailey’s confession was not enough to prosecute them. It advised that no more charges were to be brought against them, or anyone else.

22nd October 1992 Leslie Bailey pleads guilty at Reading Crown Court to the manslaughter and buggery of Mark Tildesley and, after instructing his defence counsel to seek the maximum sentence possiible, is given two terms of life imprisonment. Bailey’s counsel went on to say that Bailey could not understand why Lennie Smith and Sidney Cooke were not in the dock with him. Mark was killed during a homosexual orgy in a caravan in Evendens Lane, Wokingham. Police believed the caravan (but not Mark) had been later taken to Hackney. It was said in court that in 1984 when Mark Tildesley was abducted and killed, that Bailey had been having a homosexual relationship with Lennie Smith who, in turn, knew Cooke, and the first time that Bailey met Cooke was on the day that Mark was killed.

October 1992 Following the conviction of Leslie Bailey Operation Orchid was wound down

9th Dec 1992, Lennie Smith is sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for a string of vicious sexual assaults eight years earlier against the six year old boy who he had been baby-sitting.

26th/27th Mar 1993 Edward Gough is given two years’ probation for a series of lesser offences. Judge Lawrence Verney ruled that police interviewing Gough when he confessed to being present during the killing of Jason Swift had breached guidelines in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
He said that Gough, who was found to have an IQ of about 76, should have been accompanied by an ”appropriate adult” during questioning

Oct 1993 Leslie Bailey is found strangled to death in his cell in Whitemoor Prison. On 5th July 1995 inmates John Brooks (formerly Cairns) and Michael Cain were convicted of his murder.


Robert Oliver [AKA Robert Lee]

 Sept 1997 Robert Oliver is released from prison and changes his name to Robert Lee.

24th Mar 1998 David Bright and DCI Dick Madden visit Sidney Cooke unannounced in Wandsworth prison. David Bright’s retirement looming, and Cooke indicating he may move to Southend upon his imminent release, he wanted to find out where Cooke did intend to relocate and for Dick Madden to get a good look at him incase it was indeed to Southend. David Bright was also hopeful of engineering the conversation round to talk about missing children, Mark Tildesley and Mark’s burial site, however David got nothing in the way of information from him.

30th Mar 1998 It was reported that Stephen Barrell was living in Abingdon, Northamptonshire. His current whereabouts are not known.

6th Apr 1998 Sidney Cooke is released from prison and changes his name to Sidney Lomas. Cooke lives in a police station for 9 months at his own request.

29th Jan 1999 Sidney Cooke appears before Newbury Magistrates Court, charged with 14 serious sexual offences. which were said to have taken place in Battersea and Stockwell in south London; Twyford, Berks; Canterbury, Kent; Washington, Tyne and Wear and Hatfield, Berkhamsted and Tring in Herts. Cooke’s arrest was after a Dispatches programme which sought to find links between Cooke and Mark Tildesley’s disappearance led to a man who had been a friend of a man whose family Cooke had once lived with in the 1970’s to tell his friend. This resulted in Thames Valley Police (commanded by Trevor Davies) launching an investigation into Cooke’s offences against this family.

20th Apr 1999 Sidney Cooke is charged with serious sexual offences committed between 1972 and 1980 and remanded into custody.

17th June 1999 Lennie Smith is released from prison, but into a prison housing unit for former sex offenders at his own request

5th Oct 1999 Sidney Cooke’s trial commences at Manchester Crown Court and he pleads guilty to 18 specimen charges involving offences against two brothers, admitting to five counts of indecent assault and five counts of buggery, committed between 1972 and 1978..
David Bright attends the trial in the faint hope Cooke would make a dramatic statement admitting to other crimes.


Sidney Cooke

17th Dec 1999 This time at Wolverhampton Crown Court (where the sentencing judge, Judge Poole, was then sitting) Sidney Cooke receives two life sentences. Now retired, David Bright attends, and speaks with Thames Valley Police about Cooke.

Cooke is currently in HMP Wakefield.

2006 Lennie Smith dies from AIDS.

12th June 2013  Robert Oliver (who has changed his name to Karl Curtis) pleads guilty before Maidstone magistrates to two breaches of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).and is remanded in custody to await sentencing.


Robert Oliver

13th July 2013  Robert Oliver receives a three year prison sentence for the above offences, and is released a year later. He was last known to be residing in a bail hostel in Guildford.

Sources: Lambs to the Slaughter by Ted Oliver and Ramsey Smith, Catching Monsters by David Bright, Court of Appeal judgments, available documentary footage, and various press clippings.


Filed under Abuse, Police Operations

What happened to Vishal?

Tom Swarbrick’s LBC Podcast

‘Vishal Mehrotra went missing in London on the day of the Royal Wedding in 1981. His body was found in a shallow grave in Sussex nine months later. 33 years on, nobody knows who took him. His father believes Vishal was taken by a VIP paedophile ring and that police covered it up. Over the next few weeks, LBC’s senior reporter Tom Swarbrick examines the evidence for these claims in order to try and answer one simple question. What happened to Vishal?’

Tom Swarbrick’s original 5-part LBC podcast started 7th May and the last one was broadcast 4th June 2015. This video combines the episodes into a single audio track with added images.

With special thanks to Tom Swarbrick and LBC.

Link to original LBC podcast
Link to PDF file ‘Operation Mehrotra’


Filed under Abuse, News, Police Operations

Operation Mehrotra

Credit to LBC for publishing this 21 page report from 2005, which has been obtained using a FOI request.

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Filed under Abuse, News, Police Operations

Operation Stranger: Court of Appeal Judgment 1968

This Court of Appeal judgment from 1968 suggests that three men – Roy Becker (here named as Ronald Gilbert Becker), Alan Brent (here named as Spicer) and Bryan Owen – were abusing children for at least 20 years before they were convicted under the Brent Inquiry strand of Operation Stranger.

Walter Ballantyne, who was convicted in 1987 under the ‘Dirty Dozen’ strand of Operation Stranger, is also mentioned and although it was clear he was involved – and probably the ringleader too – he was never apprehended.  We have no further information on the man named in this document as ‘Heyday’.

[1968] EWCA Crim J1025-1. No. 3969/68 and No. 4305/68.

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL CRIMINAL DIVISION.  Royal Courts of Justice.  Friday, 25th October 1968


Lord Justice Widgery, Lord Justice Fenton Atkinson and Mr. Justice O’Connor


v. Bryan Maurice Owen


Ronald Gilbert Becker

(From the Shorthand Notes of Cherer & Co., 34 Essex Street, Strand, London, W.C.2. Telephone Number: 01-583 4121. Shorthand Writers to the Court.)

MR. P. DANBURY appeared on behalf of the Appellants.


LORD JUSTICE WIDGERY : These two appellants pleaded guilty with two other men, named respectively Kay and Spicer, at the Central Criminal Court to a number of offences of buggery, Owen to two counts and Becker to three. Owen was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment concurrent on each count, andBecker to five years’ imprisonment concurrent on each count. They now appeal against sentence by leave of the single Judge, who

[1968] EWCA Crim J1025-1 2

indicated his view that, although the sentences perhaps could not be criticised if looked at in isolation, they deserved a further review before the full Court, which is what they have had today.

The offences took place over a period of two years in a house in Highbury, where these appellants were living at the material time with Kay and for some time with another man called Ballantine, who may well have been the ringleader in this affair, but who has never been apprehended. The offences were committed with three boys aged about 12, and they were, as I have said, two offences in the case of Owen and three in the case of Becker. The boys came regularly to this house. There was, we are told, another man called Heyday, who was also concerned in this affair, but who was tried on a different indictment of which we have not got particulars, and the boys were paid half-a-crown a time for subjecting themselves to these offences.

Owen is 41, a single man. He had no previous convictions, he has had a number of employments, and he is to be approached in this case as a man who, apart from this affair, has a perfectly good record. There is nothing to indicate that he is a confirmed homosexual, and there is certainly nothing in his record to suggest he has ever done this kind of thing before.

Becker is older, 53, and he has a long history of crime for offences other than indecency, which offences of course weigh comparatively lightly in the balance of a case of this kind, but he has one other offence of indecency, which occurred more than twenty years ago, at a District Court Martial of indecent conduct. In respect of other activities he has been to prison many times, the last sentence being one of ten years received in 1953. A medical report on him shows that he is a confirmed homosexual, but includes the phrase: “… he seems able normally to exercise control over” his homosexual desires. On that account the doctor did not recommend that any particular treatment was required in his case.

[1968] EWCA Crim J1025-1 3

When sentencing these men, the learned Judge said of Becker: “If I take the view that you are a confirmed homosexual, which I do, my main objective must be to protect other young people from similar conduct in the future”. That clearly explains how the longest sentence of five years was given toBecker.

With regard to Owen, it is evident that the learned Judge thought that greater leniency could be shown, and he was sentenced to two years.

The main complaint made today before this Court is that both those sentences are excessive when compared with the sentences on Kay and Spicer. Kay pleaded guilty to two counts of buggery and was placed on probation for two years; but he was only 20 years of age and clearly was entitled to be dealt with differently on that basis. Spicer pleaded guilty to one count of buggery and received a sentence of two years’ imprisonment suspended. He was 27, namely, older than Kay, and he had got one previous conviction for two cases of indecent assault on a male under the age of 16 years. It is said with force that in view of that record Spicer got off exceedingly lightly compared with Owen and Becker.

Mr. Danbury, who has argued this case, has approached it realistically and has said – and the Court thinks rightly – that if one looks at the sentences alone in respect of the offences no one could say they were wrong. He therefore invites us really to consider his plea on the footing of disparity, disparity between these two men, and in particular, I think he would say, Spicer.

The Court recognises that there is a difference in the treatment between these two men; but it has been said over and over again that if a sentence is correct in itself the Court will not be quick to adjust it merely on account of disparity. It requires circumstances in which the appellant would have a real sense of grievance if no adjustment were made before an argument based on disparity can really be listened to. We do not think that the disparity between

[1968] EWCA Crim J1025-1 4

Owen and Becker on the one hand and Spicer on the other justifies the alteration of sentences which are proper in themselves. Accordingly these appeals are dismissed.


Filed under Abuse, Police Operations

Operations Stranger and Orchid: Lennie Smith

This article forms part of our series on Operation Stranger and Operation Orchid and looks more closely at the life and role of Lennie Smith who died in 2006.

Born on 23rd August 1954 in Montgomeryshire, Wales, Leonard William Gilchrist Smith was taken into care after leaving school at fourteen and was, by then, already an active rent boy. Consistently absconding from various care homes, he was heavily involved in the gay scene in Oxford, Birmingham and London and accumulated convictions for burglary, theft and attempting to obtain goods by deception.

Sometime in 1975 Smith moved from Wales to London. In London he operated at Victoria Station (where he first met Robert Oliver circa mid 1970s) and the Piccadilly “meat rack”, and lived for four years at an address on Eaton Place in Belgravia “with the son of a man who held a prestigious and historic parliamentary post, meeting him first as a client who enjoyed being tied up and whipped”. This man was Roddam Twiss.

Smith then moved to Westcliff, Southend, working as an amusement arcade assistant for an elderly homosexual called Jack Parsons, who was described as Smith’s “sugar daddy” and whom Smith referred to as his grandad. The amusement arcade was a cover for dealing in drugs, prostitution of boys and the picking up of boys.  At the age of twenty three he was convicted for gross indecency.

In the early 1980’s Smith based himself in Birmingham, and served a year in prison for burglary, theft and criminal damage offences. Upon his release he returned to London, becoming the tenant of 70 Templemead on the Kingsmead Estate.  Only 5ft 2″ in height and looking very young for his age Smith lasted longer than most as a rent boy.  However, he also moved on from rent boy to pimp.

In 1984 Smith married a Bolivian student at Hackney Registry Office, having been paid £500 to do so, so the student could secure her residency. His address at this point was stated as 36 Ashmead, a flat which was also shared with Robert Oliver and Donald Smith who was the tenant.  It was in this flat that Jason Swift was to meet his death a year later.

Operation Stranger was launched on 17th January 1986 and eventually resulted in convictions of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ gang and four convictions for the killing of Jason Swift. Under Operation Stranger, Smith was arrested in February 1986 and remanded into custody where he remained until his conviction and subsequent thirty month sentence in June 1987. In November 1985 Hackney police had raided 70 Templemead on the Kingsmead Estate after a tip off that a 13 year old was being abused there by Robert Oliver and Lennie Smith. The boy was hiding behind curtains and the police failed to find him.

Bizarrely, the man who made that anonymous call to Hackney police was Sidney Cooke himself.

Essex Police, picking up on this, went to interview the two about Jason Swift.  The same 13 year old boy was later found by police in February 1986 and two of the first names he gave them were Sidney Cooke and Lennie Smith.  The boy was introduced to Smith by another of the gang, Walter Ballantyne, who had first picked the boy up in September 1985.  Smith was acting as a pimp for the gang, supplying boys to a regular group of customers at £5 per child.  Some he kept for himself at first, before passing them on for money once he had tired of them. Some of his victims’ names he actually had tattoed on his body. The names of a father and son he had tried to cover up with a fresh tattoo of a black panther.

Released from Wandsworth Prison on 23rd October 1987 detectives were waiting and arrested him outside the prison gates.  The following day Smith was charged with the murder of Jason Swift.  Immediately remanded into custody again, Smith remained in custody until he was released at the committal stages in February 1988 when charges were dropped against him.

During the 1989 trial of Cooke, Bailey, Barrell and Oliver for the murder of Jason Swift, Bronwyn Bevan QC stated that Jason had become involved with Lennie Smith who then handed him to Sidney Cooke “because he feared the police were taking an unhealthy interest in him”.  Smith had always denied knowing Jason but police had uncovered eight witnesses who said differently.  Former rent boy Derek Crabbe said he had seen Jason about a dozen times in 36 Ashmead.  A neighbour also recalled seeing Jason leaving Smith’s flat at 70 Templemead.

In May 1989, and immediately after the Jason Swift trial had drawn to a close, Smith was tracked down by reporters to a council flat at Savernake House in Stoke Newington where he was living with “a bloated, middle aged man who worked as a sub-editor on the Daily Telegraph”.  The day following the verdict the Daily Mirror’s front page carried a photo of Smith with the headline “This Man is Evil”.

His name cropping up more than any other, the Orchid team had started to keep Smith under close surveillance and on 2nd May 1990 he was re-arrested trying to pick up a young boy in a toilet and received a three year prison sentence.

Whilst serving the three-year sentence for indecent assault Smith was interviewed with regards to other offences involving a six year old boy. On the day he was released in May 1991 Smith was immediately charged with offences in relation to this boy and remanded straight back into custody until his trial.

During the 1991 investigation into Smith in respect to his abuse of the boy he babysat, a friend of the boy’s family who had lived on the same estate was traced to Newcastle.  He emerged as a useful witness but died several months later from AIDS, although not before making a statement to police on his deathbed, detailing homosexual activity on the Kingsmead estate, and also naming a gay priest, who was seen driving children to orgies there.  Robert Oliver had also previously revealed that Smith had passed one boy – a 15 year old called “Michael” on to a gay priest friend of his who took the boy down to Brighton.

Though closely linked to the killing of seven-year-old Mark Tildesley and Barry Lewis, and named in court during the 1992 trial of Leslie Bailey, Smith was never charged.

The CPS decided that, whilst evidence existed, a prosecution against Lennie Smith (and Sidney Cooke) would fail because it relied too heavily on Bailey’s evidence and Bailey’s confession was not enough to prosecute Smith and Cooke.  Leslie Bailey was the only one convicted in relation to Mark’s death.

Smith had always replied “No comment” when asked about Mark.

“That’s all he would say, with a very straight face,” according to former Detective Chief Superintendent Roger Stoodley, who brought the paedophile ring to justice. “He was very calm and very cunning.”

On 9th December 1992, Smith was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for a string of vicious sexual assaults eight years earlier against a six year old boy who he had been baby-sitting.  It was reported that on one occasion the boy was taken by Smith to an illicit gay club in the West End.  The boy told the court he had witnessed two men having sex.

“Lennie Smith is a danger to all young boys” said Detective Superintendent Mick Short. “He is truly evil“.

Released into a prison housing unit for former sex offenders in 1999, Smith died of AIDS in 2006. Updated 28th Sept 2016: Smith died on 22nd February 2006 at Fieldgate Nursing Home in Horndean, Hampshire. (thanks to Martin Walkerdine who discovered this)

Upon Smith’s release in 1999 former police chief superintendent Roger Stoodley, who brought Smith to justice, said:

“Wherever he goes children will die.  He will always try and offend again. He does not deserve to have any freedom whatsoever”.


Sources include “Lambs to the Slaughter” by Ted Oliver and Ramsey Smith, “Catching Monsters” by David Bright, and press reports.


Filed under Abuse, Police Operations

Operation Hydrant

_76754913_cc8ncrn1A national police group is being set up to explore possible links between child sex abuse investigations involving celebrities, elected officials and institutions such as schools and care homes.

43 Police forces across the UK have been asked for details of their inquiries.

The new body has been set up by the Association of Chief Police Officers and will collate and share information, Chief Constable Simon Bailey said.

It is due to meet in September.

While it will not lead any investigations itself, it will gather information involving well-known figures and organisations such as hospitals, children’s homes and parliament.

Mr Bailey, who will chair the group known as Operation Hydrant, said: “This is likely to involve all police forces in the UK, and we have included Police Scotland and the Police Service of Northern Ireland in our remit.”


This story updates the original report from the Sunday Times 13th July, when it was first announced that a ‘VIP sex crimes group’, comprising of 13 forces, was being established under Simon Bailey, chief constable of Norfolk.


Filed under Abuse, Police Operations

Operation Framework 1992-93

Operation Framework was an investigation into a number of British men who police believed were taking children abroad, principally to Amsterdam, where they were being sold into prostitution and pornography.

On the day of the final police ‘swoop’, thirty-one search warrants had been obtained, including one against Warwick Spinks.  Spinks at the time was a known but unconvicted paedophile, close to the heart of the trade in children.  Police used an undercover officer, known as Todd, to gain Spink’s confidence.  The story is reproduced here exactly as Todd recalls it in ‘The Dirty Squad‘ by Michael Hames.


In November 1992 I was tasked to gain the confidence of a man called Warwick Spinks, who lived in Norwood. After gaining his trust I was to monitor his movements and activities with a view to bringing a prosecution. I had to pass myself off as a homosexual paedophile, but this time I had to do it without letting the target know that I knew he was a paedophile. To make matters even more difficult, this man had never been convicted of anything, so I had to work on a person who had no form for me to study, and who also possessed an apparent ability to run rings around the law. It was not going to be an easy job, and we knew this would be a long-term operation. Spinks had placed advertisements in Boyz, a free homosexual magazine, offering flats to rent in Poland and Amsterdam. I called the number in the advertisement and Spinks answered the telephone. I introduced myself as an executive in an insurance and finance business, and I said I would like to use his flat in Amsterdam. We arranged the dates and agreed the terms, and I gave him a special office number so he could contact me if there was any need. He told me I could pick up the keys from him at the flat in Amsterdam, as he would be there on 17 December, the date I was due to arrive.

Spinks had been under fairly regular surveillance, and a couple of days before I was due to meet him he was seen in Victoria station, talking to a teenage boy he was definitely aiming to pick up. I was shown a photograph of the two of them in the station as part of my briefing before I left for Holland. On my arrival in Amsterdam I met up with a young Dutch police officer who was to work with me. He was using the name of Mark. In the early afternoon he drove me to the Amstel district and parked outside a large block of flats with the name `Amstel 294′ on the front. Mark waited in the car and I went into the foyer of the building. I pressed the intercom for one of the flats. A man answered and told me to take the lift to the fifth floor. When I got there I knocked on the door of the flat. Warwick Spinks opened the door. I recognised him at once from the various photographs I had seen. He looked younger than his years; he could easily have been taken for a man of twenty-five, rather fat but quite flashily good-looking, the type anybody would assume to be a ladies’ man. He took me inside and introduced me to the same youth he was photographed with in Victoria station. `This is my friend Ken,’ he said. Spinks then gave me a cursory tour of the flat, which was one big room with kitchen facilities and a fold-down bed, plus a separate shower room and toilet. I said to Spinks, I’ve met a friend of a friend of mine over here. He’s downstairs. He doesn’t know Amsterdam, perhaps we could all go out this evening?’ `Sure: Spinks said. ‘In fact we can go for a drink right now, just so you get the feel of the place, then tonight we’ll all go out for a proper pub crawl: `That’s marvellous,’ I said:I’m here for three days, and I don’t want to miss out on anything. If you really don’t mind showing me round …’

`It’ll be a pleasure, Todd: `Great. I’ll pay for everything. I want to see the right places. You know I winked, ‘where they’ve got the younger element.’ Downstairs I introduced Mark, then the four of us walked through the cold sunlit streets to the Marcella Bar in Princengracht. We sat at a table and Spinks ordered our drinks in Dutch. He was extremely friendly and I appeared to hit it off with him without any difficulty. He commented on my Cockney accent, and I told him that I came from the East End. He told me he was from South London. I tried to ask Ken about himself, but Spinks did all the talking. `Ken lives in Kent. He’s fifteen,’ he added, with the shadow of a wink. Later, when Ken went to the toilet, Spinks told me that he had had sexual intercourse with the lad the night before. He said it was Ken’s first sexual experience and that he had pretended to be drunk and asleep throughout the whole scene. When we were on our second drink Spinks asked me what I was going to do during my stay in Amsterdam. I told him I would like to look at some videos and visit a few gay bars. He told me that there were plenty of chickens — young boys — in the gay bars around the city. I did my best to look pleased about that, then I moved the subject on to videos. `I’ll tell you what, Warwick, I said, ‘I bought a few videos back in England but they were very poor quality.’ `Yeah, well, they would be’. He told me he had run a porno video business in Kent at one time, using the name of J. Heath. He said all of his stock of videos had been confiscated by the police, but he hadn’t been caught. Do you still have any contacts in the business?’ I asked him. He nodded slowly and smiled. He said that he could get any kind of videos I wanted right there in Amsterdam.

`I don’t think I’d like to run the risk of taking them through Customs’ I said ‘Have you got any back in England I might have a look at?’ `Sure, I’ll fix you up, Todd. Don’t worry about it.’ Later, while Ken and Mark sat saying nothing, looking around them, Spinks told me he had other flats for rent in Warmoestraat, which was in another part of Amsterdam. `But they’re for straight punters. I’ve got flats to rent in Prague and the Canary Islands, too, if you’re ever interested: `I quite fancy Prague,’ I said.’Never been there, mind you’.  Spinks told me drink and cigarettes were cheap in Prague. He had plenty of supplies in England and he would be happy to sell some to me cheap. I noticed that Spinks was getting more talkative the more he drank. He told me he had been coming to Amsterdam since he was fifteen years old. He also said that he had been married and had two children, but he had left his wife and was living with a nineteen-year-old Polish boy in Thornton Heath. He referred to this boy as ‘the wife’. When he showed some interest in my own background I told him I was the executive manager of an insurance and finance company. I was single, I said, and usually inclined to keep myself to myself. Spinks told me that tonight, just for a change, I could come out of my shell. He said he would show us round the best gay bars in Amsterdam.Then he looked at his watch. `I have to go. I’ve an appointment to keep.’ We arranged that we would meet again in the evening at seven o’clock, at Amstel 294. Before he and Ken left the bar Spinks gave me a set of keys for the flat. I waited five minutes, then left the bar with Mark. We met up with other Dutch officers and went to a hotel where a room had been booked for me.We spent the rest of the afternoon making notes.

Later I went to the flat with Mark, where we sat and waited for the other two to show up. At about half-past seven Spinks buzzed the intercom and told me he was in the foyer with Ken. Mark and I went down and all four of us went to the Amstelhoek, a gay bar. While we were there Spinks told me he wanted to show me as many bars as possible that evening because he was going back to England with Ken the following day. We stayed in Amstelhoek for about three minutes and then went to Chez Manfred on Halvemassteeg. It was full to the door with gay men of all ages.There were also two middle-aged women, who were walking along the bar, putting lipstick on the men as they passed. We declined their offer and went to another bar opposite. This place was decorated entirely in white, with white cloth on the walls and ceiling. `It’s like walking into a giant condom,’ Spinks said. Like the other places this was a gay bar, as busy as the one across the road. Two black men behind me were dancing, and after a minute I felt two hands closing around my genitals. I looked over my shoulder, trying not to panic, and I saw that one of the black men had turned towards me and was dancing with his front to my back. He grinned at me and so did Spinks. I pulled away from him perhaps a little too sharply, then I quickly explained to Spinks that he had been making me spill my drink. We left this bar after ten minutes and went to a quieter one on Amstel. There were only four other customers and the bar had no disco, so it was possible to have a conversation. Spinks drew me to one side. `Todd, I want your stay in Amsterdam to be a memorable one. There’s lots of other gay bars I want to show you, but I’ve got a problem. I didn’t get a chance to go to the bank, so I’m running low on money. Could you lend me three hundred guilders?’ `No problem’.

I handed him the cash, and I had the immediate sense that I had passed some kind of test. He put his mouth close to my ear. `The next bar we go to,’ he whispered ‘I’m going to fix you up with a chicken’.  So events were fitting the required scenario. Spinks had taken to me. I had won his confidence, and he accepted me as a paedophile, all on my first day in the job. The only snag so far was that I had to make sure I had no part in the soliciting of a minor, and I had to do it without making Spinks suspicious. `Listen: I said,’ tapping my chest, ‘I’ve got to be careful. With this heart condition I’ve got, a frisky chicken would probably kill me’ `Nah. Spinks shook his head. ‘You won’t have to do anything. You can just cuddle, or the boy can give you a blow-job. It won’t cost you a thing, either. It’ll be my treat.’ He said I could take the boy back to Amstel 294N, and at some point during the evening we could swap partners. He would let me sleep with Ken while he had sex with the boy he had supplied for me. Now I felt a little flutter of panic. I told Spinks it seemed like a good idea, but the fact was, I fancied Mark. He frowned at me. ‘Isn’t he a bit old for your taste?’ `He is, yes, but he’s the boyfriend of a friend, you see? It would give me a bit of a kick if I could make it with him. I won’t get a chance after tonight, so I’d like to take a shot at it, if you won’t feel offended.’ `Do you think Mark will go for it?’ Spinks muttered. ‘He doesn’t look all that interested to me.’ I said I would speak to Mark, and if he wasn’t interested, I would take Spinks up on his kind offer. `Fair enough: Spinks said. I asked Mark to come outside for a minute. He followed me out on to the cold street.

‘Look’ I said, `me and you have got to fall in love very, very quickly, otherwise we’re both in the shit, big time.’ Mark understood. We walked back into the bar hand in hand. `I’m in with Mark: I whispered to Spinks. ‘But thanks for your offer, anyway.’ Keeping my voice low, I told Spinks that not only had Mark agreed to sleep with me, but he was going to drive me back to his house where I could stay the night, so Spinks could have the use of Amstel 294, which would save him driving across the city to the place where he was staying. `Suits me fine,’ Spinks said, and I could see he had swallowed the story. He looked at his watch. ‘I’ll have to phone the wife soon. He’s a jealous lad and gets stroppy if I don’t keep in touch.’ At about 9:30 I told Spinks I was keen to leave with Mark, now we had an understanding. We said our goodbyes and I thanked Spinks for making my first visit to Amsterdam so enjoyable. I left the bar with Mark and we then drove to my hotel, where we made our notes. I was confident, by that time, that I had made a sound contact with Spinks, and that he not only trusted me and accepted me as a paedophile, but appeared to want to stay friendly. When I returned to England I allowed time for Spinks to get back, then I telephoned him, because I had to give him back the keys to the flat in Amsterdam. I said I would bring them round. He told me not to bother, I could just post them. I said I didn’t like the idea of putting keys in the post, I’d much sooner give them to him. So I met him down in Norwood, and he introduced me to the man he had referred to as his wife. We had a drink and as I left he said he wanted to have a natter with me again really soon. We kept in touch fairly regularly after that. I used to meet him at Compton’s and similar places in the West End. It was an easy-going arrangement, smoother than I had imagined at the outset.

Then without any warning Spinks moved to Hastings to live. I made excuses to keep in contact with him there, too. Operation Framework at that point had been running for about two years; they now had a list of numerous names and addresses where they would soon make simultaneous swoops nationwide. The big day was about to dawn. I went down to Hastings to find out if Spinks would be there the following Tuesday, when the raids were due to take place. When I was alone with him in his house he said, ‘I had two lovely boys here. Fourteen, they were, both of them.’ He winked. `I took photographs.’ `Local lads, are they?’ I asked him. `No fear.They’re from a children’s home in Doncaster.’ I told him I would love to see the photographs. He said he hadn’t had them developed yet. `I’m going over to Amsterdam next week, I’ll get them developed then. I asked him what the boys looked like. One was fair, he said, and was called Tom; the other one, Ricky, was dark-haired. `Lovely,’ I said. I’d definitely like to see them.’ Because of that conversation, the Framework invasion plan was put on hold until we had a date when Warwick Spinks would be back home at Hastings. Meanwhile, going on the descriptions of the boys I had been given, plus their names and the location, the police were able to go to the only children’s home in Doncaster where they found, sure enough, that two boys with those names and fitting those descriptions had run away several days earlier. Later, when the boys had been found again and brought back to the home, one of them described how they had been picked up in Hastings by Spinks and taken to his home. He had sodomised them at knife-point, then made them sodomise each other.

One of them was taken to Amsterdam and sold to the owner of a club called the Blue Boy. He eventually escaped through a window and went to the British consul, who brought him back to England. Meanwhile, Framework had to be re-scheduled, so I called Spinks in Amsterdam and said I was thinking of coming over to Hastings the following Wednesday, which was when the officers running Framework wanted to make all the raids. ‘I’ll be home that day, sure: he told me.’Earlier than that, most likely. Come down when you like: `I wondered if you’d have the photos of the two lads you told me about,’ I said. `I should have them by then, yeah: he said.’You won’t be disappointed, I can promise you.’ `Great. I’ll see you next Wednesday, then: Spinks was duly raided the following Wednesday.Among other material, the police found the negatives of the photographs of Tom and Ricky from the children’s home. At Lewes Crown Court Spinks pleaded not guilty to a number of charges. After I and everyone else involved in the case had given evidence, Spinks was found guilty. He was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.

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Operation Shakespeare (1993) And The Emergence Of The Pseudo-Image

As The Needle reported following the last court hearing for John Stingemore and Father Tony McSweeney at  Southwark Crown Court, one of the charges that McSweeney pleaded not guilty to referred to the making of an indecent ‘pseudo image’ of a child.

We’d never heard of the term and we felt certain that many others had not either and so we provided a definition but it is actually only 20 years since the police, working on Operation Shakespeare, first came across an indecent pseudo image which eventually precipitated an amendment to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 which made such images illegal.

This post outlines how it happened, sourced primarily from Michael Hames’ autobiography ‘The Dirty Squad’.


Operation Shakespeare began after the Metropolitan Police received an angry call from a woman who had discovered a pornographic image of a child, who was a relation, on her husband’s computer.  The computer was siezed and the image found to be what is now known legally as a ‘pseudo-photograph’.

The man had used a pornographic image of a woman and transposed a photograph of the young girl’s head to replace the adult head.  He had used photo-manipulation software to remove the hair and breasts from the adult torso, resulting in a lewd image of an immature female body with a child’s smiling face.  Evidence of the manipulation was visible on close inspection, but to all intents and purposes the police were dealing with a pornographic photograph of a child.

This presented a legal dilemma.  What did the image amount to in law?  It was not a photograph of a child, it could be demonstrated that a photograph of an adult woman had been electronically altered, and that the child’s head had been superimposed.  The Protection of Children Act was clear on the subject of photographs, but police at the time could not be sure that this image fell within the definition of a photograph.  The Crown Prosecution Service was consulted but were as concerned and uncertain as the police.  In the end, no prosecution was mounted.

It was clear that the law needed to be clarified and Michael Hames, Head of the Obscene Publications Branch within New Scotland Yard decided to include the image in an exhibition held at the House of Commons in February 1993, organised by Ann Winterton MP.  Over 300 MPs accepted an invitation to attend and a press statement was released:

The Obscene Publications Branch of New Scotland will provide briefing on the obscene and pornographic material which is now increasingly available in the United Kingdom and to explain the weaknesses of the Obscene Publications Act.  Items on display will include tapes, books, magazines, and satellite and computer-generated pornography.  The material includes child abuse, bestiality, oral sex, both homosexual and heterosexual group and anal intercourse and other violent and abnormal sexual behaviour which it would be inappropriate to list.

Ms Winterton was

…deeply shocked that such material is now increasingly available, largely because of the lack of political will to tackle the weakness of the Obscene Publications Act.  The Act is a threadbare garment, woven in a different age, which can no longer provide the cloak of protection which women, men and children need against the most horrific, exploitative, and damaging pornography.  I am not talking about soft porn, or about material which is titillating.  I am talking about an exhibition of material which is so horrific that not one Member of Parliament at the private viewing held a short time ago was able physically to endure viewing all the exhibits in question.

The exhibition resulted in the Home Affairs Select Committee requesting the government to amend the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill.  The Select Committee visited Scotland Yard to consult police on the growing problem of child pornography and police used this opportunity to raise the dilemma created by the image at the centre of Operation Shakespeare.  As a result, it became an offence for a person to possess an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child. (Section 160 of the 1988 Act as amended by section 84(4) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994)

Currently, the main offence provisions relating to indecent photographs of children are the Protection of Children Act 1978 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988. The latter extends to the making of ‘pseudo-photographs’, defined as ‘an image, whether made by computer graphics or otherwise, which appears to be a photograph’. Throughout the Act, pseudo-photographs are put on the same footing as actual photographs. It is possible to convict a person of making a pseudo-photograph where the dominant impression conveyed is that the person shown is a child, notwithstanding that some of the physical characteristics shown are those of an adult.  CPS.


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Operation Hedgerow (1987 – 89)


Operation Hedgerow was established by Kilburn Police in the London Borough of Brent following a complaint by a 10-year old boy, about sexual abuse by Kenneth Martin, to a social worker.  It was led by DCI Roger Gaspar. Ultimately, 150 boys and young men were interviewed, 653 separate allegations of sexual offences were collected, over 20 arrests were made and 14 men were convicted.

The trouble with paedophiles is that they work underneath the community. It’s a very effective subculture. They work themselves into key jobs which bring them into contact with children.      DCI Gaspar

The Operation was rated a success because of the novel police approach.

Firstly, they took a different tack with the allegations. Normally, an alleged abuser would be confronted immediately, putting the word of a child against that of an adult and making evidence difficult to collect. Instead, a team was established to keep the abuser’s house under surveillance. They noted the visits of boys and other adults and tailed them home to discover who they were.

Secondly, they formed a very close link to Brent Social Services Department (SSD) at an early stage. David Divine, the director of Brent SSD was called upon to discuss working together. Nine experienced social workers were assigned to the core team and these people supported both the children, their parents and the police.

There was a danger of police priorities dominating,” says Peter Bibby, now acting director of Brent SSD, “but it was identified very early on at the senior level, in one or two meetings where we worked out the ground rules. For instance, we didn’t want to do anything that interfered with their investigation; but we didn’t want them to withhold information from us that would put a child at risk.”  It was agreed that any conflict of interest would be referred up to the top level, where Divine and the commander kept regular contact. (Source)

Detective Sergeant Don Barrell recalls: “A lot of the interviews were away from police stations, in McDonalds or in the social work offices, getting the children’s trust and trying to reassure them that they hadn’t done anything wrong. Ken Martin had instilled some fear in them that they were the guilty party. There’s a sense of achievement when a kid comes across and tells you he’s been abused.” (Source)

Thirdly, DCI Gaspar viewed their success in terms of shifting the power base:

It seemed quite clear to me”, he says, “that if we were right in our perception of Martin as a prolific offender, then we had to break his hold over the community of kids that he ‘ran’.
It’s a bit like rape: sex isn’t the only element within it, it’s power.  The only people he could, or wanted to, exercise power over were boys.
“We shifted the power base, with all the people we arrested, from the offenders to ourselves.”  The second wave of arrests, in December 1987, netted 20 people in simultaneous dawn raids.  “That was done deliberately for the shock effect, and to remove then all from the environment so that we could then get to work on the children,” Gaspar explains. (Source)

Fourthly, the police took the approach of investigating all the leads, and expanding the operation, rather than limiting themselves to dealing with the single complaint from one social worker. This resulted in the exposure of two paedophile rings.

Operation Hedgerow (1987-89)

In August 1987 an allegation against Kenneth Martin came to Kilburn police. Martin had been arrested in 1981 for similar, although minor, offences and was released on bail.

DCI Gaspar took an early decision that a reactive response to the original allegation against Martin would fail.  Instead a team was established to keep Martin’s house under surveillance. They noted the visits of boys and other adults and tailed them home to discover who they were.

After two months, there came a night when police were sure that a boy was staying over. They raided the house and found Martin and the boy naked together in the bedroom.

A dedicated telephone hotline was set up and publicised, manned by social workers, at Brent Council.

The Daily Express first broke the story on 13th October 1987 when they described the raid at a 63 year old market traders’s property in North London. The next day they reported that police were liaising with officers investigating similar rings in the London and Croydon areas. These were likely the ‘dirty dozen’ and ‘Jason Swift murder rings’ investigated by Operation Stranger.

By December 1987 more than 20 people were taken in for questioning and 140 boys, mainly from the Brent area of North London, aged between 10- 14, had been interviewed. Most of the victims came from London, but others lived in Berkshire, Wiltshire, Devon and Cambridgeshire and some were ‘recruited’ from special schools.

Operation Hedgerow uncovered two networks:

1. The Ken Martin Ring, Brent

Ken Martin, says Gaspar, had “a highly defined system: he had a market stall at the Sunday Brick Lane market, selling boys’ toys: train sets, cars, action man outfits. He also had his living room kitted out with three computers, an oval of train sets, sweets laid out on the mantelpiece.
“And he would attract kids from the locality that way. He abused the kids himself. He jointly offended against two boys with one of his co-defendants, and they were particularly nasty, violent homosexual rapes; but there wasn’t a great passing around of kids.

On 3rd December 1987 two men arrested were named as Kenneth Martin, 63, and Bryan Peter Howard Edmunds, 59. On the 8th April 1989, The Glasgow Herald reported three convictions;
Kenneth Martin, 65, was jailed for 13 years
Brian Howard-Edmonds, 60, was jailed for 7 years
Charles Wellings, 54, was given a total of nine years after being convicted of five offences including buggery, aiding and abetting buggery, and indecent assault.

2. The Alan Delany/Colin Peters Ring, Ealing
This was the subject of a separate trial.

The other ring, however, said Gaspar, was organised in a loose sense for mutual interest, and they would pass the kids around. Members of this ring used advertisements for jobs in local newspapers, a CB radio, and babysitting favours to attract boys. The paedophiles did nothing else except go to work or look for kids, Gaspar says. They had no hobbies: their passion was all-consuming. (Source)

The Guardian reported that seven men had been charged on 4th December 1987:
Alan Herbert Delaney, aged 47, of Hounslow
Patrick David Norris, aged 18, of Willesden
Patrick Joseph Norris, aged 55, father of the above
Colin Peters, aged 44, of Notting Hill
John Elwin Williams, aged 45, of Willesden
Victor James Burnett, aged 42, of Acton
Ernest Frank Whittington, aged 63, of Harlesden.

The Times reported on 12 November 1988 that six men were brought to trial:
Colin Peters, aged 45, a barrister, Alan Delaney, aged 48, a director of a cleaning company; Ernest Whittington, aged 64, a Brent council estate orderly, was known to children he befriended as “the chocolate man” because of his generosity. Patrick Norris, aged 19, his half-brother, Sean, aged 18, and Victor Burnett, aged 43.

It was revealed in court that a British Telecom engineer called to the Delaney home and found a photograph album behind a bedside cabinet while he installed a telephone. The court was told that the album contained 40 photographs of boys and girls aged seven to 16 in nude poses and one of simulated sex.
For the first time in a UK court, witnesses were shielded from their attackers.

In February 1989, the Daily Express Reported that a Mafia-Like conspiracy  – said to include a senior House of Lords official and a West London vicar – was exposed before a shocked court. On 3rd February 1989, Patrick Norris, aged 19, and his half brother Sean, aged 18, admitted conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Patrick was sentenced to 18 months’ detention and his brother put on probation for two years. The next day, 4th February 1989, the remaining four men were jailed for a total of 34 years.

Colin Peters, barrister and former Foreign Office lawyer, was jailed for eight years for conspiracy to commit buggery and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

Alan Delaney was jailed for 11 years for conspiracy to commit buggery, indecent assault, taking indecent photographs, indecency with a child and attempted buggery.

Victor Burnett was jailed for nine years for conspiracy to commit buggery.

Ernest Whittington a council estate orderly, of Harlesden, North London, was jailed for six years for conspiracy to commit indecent assault and three counts of buggery.

Operation Hedgerow was reported to have resulted in the jailing of 14 men.

In November 1994, Nick Davies commented in the Guardian about the investigation:

When the inquiry closed, the two detectives John Lewis and Roger Gaspar, produced an internal paper. It was entitled “People not Property” and it argued the case for setting up a central, pro-active unit to dig out evidence of child pornography and abuse. They pointed out that Scotland Yard’s specialist squads were devoted to protecting property – arts and antiques, cheques, counterfeit currency, stolen cars, frauds, robberies, burglaries. They wanted a squad that protected young people. They said they could gather intelligence by visiting runaway children who had returned home, or victims of abuse who had had time to recover, or convicted paedophiles who were serving sentences. Once they had the intelligence, they could target the suspects.

They presented their paper to the Association of Chief Police Officers and to the men who were then in charge of serious crime at Scotland Yard, but nothing came of it. As if to add insult to injury, Detective Chief Superintendent Gaspar was put in charge of stolen cars.

More recently, The Independent (3rd March 2013), commented on Operation Hedgerow:
Reports at the time said the ring “was used by highly placed civil servants and well-known public figures”, but police didn’t have “the evidence or manpower to pursue them in court”. The investigation led them to conclude that “we have only scraped the surface of the paedophile menace in Britain”.

Roger Gaspar, a former detective inspector who was part of the Hedgerow team, confirmed that Grafton Close children’s home featured in their investigation. It was remarked that Peters, then aged 43, a barrister and tax adviser, was seen as “a key figure in the ring”. ‘Detectives said the abuse spanned a five-year period and the charges were only specimens – meaning that the abuse was much wider than documented in court.’

He added: “There were suggestions that boys were taken to Amsterdam, but we did not have time to investigate. It was a year-long investigation and Amsterdam was one of a number of leads. We just didn’t have time to look at it in detail.”

Operation Hedgerow ran until 1989 but despite its success, it seems that there were many unexplored connections.


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Operation Orchid (Aug ’89 – Oct ’92)

The second of our posts on Police Operations features Operation Orchid.

Police Op Orchid
Operation Stranger had resulted in the trial and conviction of four men; Sidney Cooke, Stephen Barrell, Robert Oliver and Leslie Bailey for the killing of Jason Swift.

Operation Orchid, which followed in August 1989, was connected to the Jason Swift murder in that no one had yet been brought to justice for the murders of other missing boys, including Barry Lewis and Mark Tildesley. Police believed these cases were all connected, and that the killers were likely to be the same men.  Operation Orchid eventually resulted in the conviction of Leslie Bailey for the killing of both Barry Lewis and Mark Tildesley.

Operation Orchid (August 1989 – October 1992) investigated the disappearance of boys during the 1980’s. It was instigated after Leslie Bailey’s cell mate, Ian Gabb, told the police about Bailey’s further confessions in prison.

Operation Orchid was led by Detective Chief Superintendent Roger Stoodley and Detective Chief Inspector David Easy. The Police team initially included DI Bob Brown (from the Alan Brent and Jason killers inquiries), and many of his original colleagues. When Bob Brown later moved, he was replaced by D.S Richard Langley, who continued to develop the rapport with Gabb. One name that repeatedly came up was that of Lennie Smith.

Lennie Smith had been strongly implicated in the Jason Swift murder.  However, at the time, charges were dropped against him. The Orchid team started to keep him under close surveillance.

He was eventually arrested at a public toilet, where he had indecently assaulted a child, and was sentenced to three years.

Ian Gabb had become a key contributor to the ‘Operation Orchid’ team in that he was placed as a cell-mate with three of Jason Swift’s killers. He had offered to help the police because he was revolted by their crimes, and he asked for no special favours in return. In fact, he even offered to prolong his stay in prison in order to gain more information. Firstly, he shared a cell with Bailey, then Oliver, and finally with Cooke.

After he shared a cell with Sydney Cooke, he wrote to the police:

“Dear Richard, I moved in with Sidney Cooke yesterday afternoon. Please God, don’t ever let this man walk our streets again. He continually talks about sex with children. Its really sickening. I can tell you that there are probably 25 to 30 dead children buried out there. Cooke has already admitted to me that he’s seen about 15 killed. He boasts of this figure. All that I write is the truth. The only part that is missing is the creeping feeling of evil I get while listening to Cooke tell me of these events. I cannot relate the fear I feel for children everywhere that I feel while this man Cooke laughs and squeals in delight as he tells me of the things he has done and the things he intends to do in the future.”

Gabb’s information was very detailed and included maps drawn by Bailey of where some of the bodies were buried.

In 1990, 28th May, the police publicly started a search for the bodies of four boys in a car park adjacent to Clapton synagogue. Although no bodies were found, it was later reported that the police found evidence that a body had been there, but then moved to another location.

In July, 1990,Scotland Yard disclosed that detectives were investigating the disappearance of boys over a six-year period, as well as deaths during the making of films in London dating back to 1984.

That same month in 1990, Leslie Bailey confessed to his involvement in the death in 1985 of Barry Lewis, aged 6, and he was charged with his murder.

Bailey was convicted in June 1991 for killing of Barry Lewis aged 6 yrs
He was sentenced to life imprisonment for Barry’s murder on June 14, 1991. He was already serving 15 years for his part in the death of Jason Swift, who was killed in the same flat.

At the time, Detective Chief Superintendent Roger Stoodley, who led Operation Orchid, said four other men were questioned in the Barry Lewis inquiry. He spoke of two paedophile rings in east London and Kent, and said on television: “My information at the moment is that nine boys have been murdered in cases of child sex abuse.”

When Bailey was also questioned about Mark Tildesley, the 7 year old who disappeared whilst visiting a fair in Wokingham, he admitted his involvement, and was charged with his murder.

Police were confident that both Cooke and Smith were deeply implicated in both the murders of Barry Lewis and Mark Tildesley and that they would be able to press charges against them. 

Ironically, however, the confessions from Bailey had led to appeals by the other three who were convicted at the Jason Swift murder trial.

The appeal judge took the view that Leslie Baily was the ringleader, and therefore reduced the sentences for Cooke from 19 years to 16 years, and for Barrell from 13.5 years to 10 years. Oliver (who had changed his name to Cooke) has his appeal dismissed.

The Police, who had been expecting both Cooke and Lennie Smith to be prosecuted, were disappointed when the Crown Prosecution Service announced: “There have been suspects considered where we have decided there is insufficient evidence.”

Only Leslie Bailey stood trial in 1992 for the murder of Mark Tildesley.

John Nutting, for the prosecution, unusually, named others who had not been charged with the murder, and gave the court a harrowing account of Mark’s last hours:

“On June 30, 1984, he had asked his father for permission to visit the fair. That day Bailey and his lover, Lennie Smith, had driven from London to Wokingham to visit a friend who had a caravan parked close to the fairground. The journey was a prelude to Bailey’s induction to the paeodophile ring, Mr Nutting said. Once at the fairground, Smith left Bailey to find his friend, Sidney Cooke. Some minutes later he returned with Cooke, who was holding a small boy by the hand. The child appeared to be dragging back and unwilling to be led, Mr Nutting said. The men took Mark to Cooke’s caravan where the child was forced to drink drugged milk and then subjected to multiple rape.
Smith and Bailey held Mark as each assaulted him. Bailey began to panic when the boy showed no sign of life but Cooke reassured the men by saying he would take him home.”

(A later press report from 1998 suggested that there was a fourth man, “Oddbod”, present).

Bailey was convicted 23rd October 1992 for the manslaughter and buggery of Mark Tildesley, aged 7 yrs

After the trial, Detective Supt Mick Short, the Thames Valley officer who led the inquiry, said papers on two men had been sent to the director of public prosecutions a year ago,and he had believed there was ample evidence to put those people before the court.

Mick Short added: “As far as Leslie Bailey is concerned, I don’t believe that he is the most wicked of the people that killed mark, in fact in many respects he was the least guilty. The other men I believe are evil, and I am certain they will come out of prison. And when they come out I am convinced they will kill again”.

That same month, October 1992, Operation Orchid, was wound down, and lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service decided there should be no further action against anyone for the murder of Mark Tildesley, 7, or the deaths of Barry Lewis, 6, and Jason Swift, 14.

Det Chief Supt Roger Stoodley, who led the operation retired earlier that month.
Subsequently, he said on BBC Crimewatch programme;

“Young boys were being carried out of flats on the Kingsmeade estate in Hackney, with anybody apparently noticing, or phoning the police, or in any way caring about what had occurred”.
“Its a very worrying situation”.

Operation Orchid resulted in Leslie Bailey’s conviction for the murders of both Mark Tildesley, 7, and Barry Lewis, 6. Lennie Smith was convicted for three years for indecent assault on a child.

Despite being implicated, neither Cooke nor Smith were convicted for involvement in the two young boy’s murders.

Leslie Bailey was strangled in his cell in Whitemore Prison on 7th October 1993. Two inmates were charged with his murder.
Lennie Smith was sentenced to 10 years in 1992 for the buggery of a 6-year old boy. He died of aids in 2006.
Sidney Cooke was released  from prison in April 1998.  In January 1999, Cooke, 72, was re-arrested and was given two life sentences at Wolverhampton Crown Court for a series of sexual assaults on two young brothers committed more than two decades ago.


Filed under Abuse, Police Operations

Operation Stranger (Jan ’86 – ’89?)


We’ve been trying to untangle the police operations, the networks they connected, and piece together a chronology. The results so far have surprised us. We’ll make the connections later.

This is our first one, Operation Stranger (and its strands).

(Sources include ‘Lambs to the Slaughter’ by Ted Oliver and press reports, which may contain inaccuracies and contradictions, so we’d welcome input to help us refine any omissions or errors).

OPERATION STRANGER (January ‘86 – ‘89?)
This was joint Essex and the Met forces investigation into the deaths of Jason Swift and Barry Lewis. We believe three ‘strands’ are connected directly, or indirectly, to this operation;

1.      The ‘Dirty Dozen’ Paedophile ring (Feb ‘86 – Jun ‘87)
2.      The Alan Brent (baby-sitting) ring (Apr ‘87 – Mar ’88)
3.      The ‘Jason Swift murder’ Hackney ring (Jun ’87 – May ’89)

Operation Stranger was set up on 17th January 1986, as a secret operation between Essex police and the Metropolitan Police who were investigating the murders in 1985  of Barry Lewis, age 6,  and Jason Swift, age 14.  Detectives had been informed that both children had been drugged prior to their deaths but decided this should not yet be made public so as not to alert potential suspects.  (The operation was joint because Jason’s body had been found outside the Met boundary, in Essex.)

Commander Corbett, head of C11, the Met’s Criminal Intelligence Unit was appointed to co-ordinate Operation Stranger.

Operation Stranger was made public on 16th April 1986 when Commander Corbett, Detective Chief Superintendent Bill Hatfull from the Met, and Detective Superintendent James Kenneally from Essex, held a press conference at New Scotland Yard.

A key purpose of going public was to try to track down the man who had been seen carrying a child the day after Barry Lewis disappeared. The man had been driving a red Talbot Horizon, and photo-fits of the man were released.  It was the first time the murders of Barry Lewis and Jason Swift were officially linked, and nine similarities between their deaths were announced.

National Conference
Five days after the announcement of Operation Stranger, a national police conference was held in London to discuss child killings and abductions. Three boys in particular attracted the interest of the Stranger team. These were Mark Tildesley, Vishal Mehrotra (who vanished from Putney High Street on Royal Wedding day in 1981 and whose body was discovered in Surrey) and a six year old from Brighton who had been the victim of a vicious homosexual attack in a car in August 1983.

At the conference, a chief superintendent from Cleveland asked if anyone had information on an organisation called ‘Interchain’. This was a world-wide circle of homosexual paedophiles with its main centres in Switzerland and New York. These men exchanged information on their mostly violent perversions and fantasies about young boys. An investigation later showed that there were 142 British members of Interchain. All were traced and 15 were found to have convictions for offences against boys. Two of them were interviewed about the murders of Jason Swift and Barry Lewis, but never arrested.

The Operation Stranger investigations into Jason Swift & Barry Lewis resulted in conviction of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ gang, and led to four convictions for the killing of Jason Swift.

THE ‘DIRTY DOZEN’ (Feb’86 – Jun’87)

Hackney police raided a flat on the Kingsmeade Estate in November 1985 after a report that a 13 year old was being abused there, but failed to find the child who was hidden there.  Essex police later picked up this information and visited the flat to question the occupants, Lennie Smith and Robert Oliver, about Jason’s death. Both men had previous convictions for offences against young boys.

In February 1986, Essex detectives found the same 13 year old boy by chance when they raided a house in Croydon as they made inquiries into Jason’s murder.

They rescued him from the gang and sparked off a massive investigation. Two of the first names supplied by the boy were Lennie Smith and Sidney Cooke. Both men had had brutal sex with him. Within days, Smith and Cooke were arrested and charged and remanded to Brixton Prison to await trial.

In June 1987, twelve men from this paedophile network who had preyed on runaway boys were convicted. Crown prosecutor Mr John Sevan told the court that, between January 1984 and January 1986, the defendants procured and corrupted boys who had run away from home or from council care. Boys were ‘hawked about’ all over London, staying for a week or two at the homes of different men who passed them on when they tired of them. To keep one step ahead of police, social workers or parents, the men hid the boys.

This network became known as the ‘Dirty Dozen’.

Walter Ballantyne, 46; a stallholder at Dalston Market, was one of the ringleaders of the network, he was given 6 years 3 months
Leonard William Smith, 31, was sentenced to 30 months;
Sidney Charles Cooke, 59, remanded for bail reports / got 2 years *
Simon Haeems, 35, was sentenced to 2 years
Colin Byrne, 18, was sentenced to 1 year probation
Daniel Paine, 33, was sentenced to 2 years;
Roy Alan Morris, 26, was sentenced to 30 months,
Alfred Goddard, 58, was sentenced to 2 years;
John Thornton, 36, was sentenced to 8 years (thought to be leader of the Croydon group);
John Stead, 23, was sentenced to 5 years;
Edward Talbot, 47, was sentenced to 1 year;
Brian Turner, was sentenced to 5 years

* ‘Lambs to the Slaughter’ by Ted Oliver and Ramsay Smith, 1993 reported that Cooke got 2 years for buggery of the boy that Lennie Smith also abused.

THE ‘BRENT INQUIRY’  (Alan Brent’s Baby-Sitting Network)

By the early part of early 1987, new leads relating to the Operation Stranger inquiry into Jason Swift and Barry Lewis were drying up, and the number of detectives working on the case had been reduced.

On Good Friday 1987, the Hackney crime squad investigated a complaint that a four year old local child had been abused by the family baby-sitter. Later that night, an anonymous telephone call to Hackney police led them to an address where they arrested Alan Brent, a 46 year old council cleansing department worker. Brent admitted he had molested the child and had convictions for similar offences dating back twenty years. It became apparent that the assault was not an isolated incident and, over the years, other members of the family had been subjected to abuse.

DI Bob Brown decided to form a squad to undertake ‘The Brent Inquiry’ which uncovered a catalogue of abuse against members of families that Alan Brent and his gang had been baby-sitting for. These men, who were linked to other groups, including the ‘Dirty Dozen’, wormed their way into the confidence of working-class families with the sole purpose of abusing their children. For years, young victims were passed from man to man and from group to group.

On the 26th June 1987 three men including a 72-year-old pensioner were remanded in custody on child sex charges by Old Street Magistrates Court.
Alan John Brent, 46, also known as John Alan Spicer and Andrew Spicer
Roy Becker, 72
Bryan Owen, 62
Brent and Owen were remanded in prison custody until July 8, while Becker was remanded in police custody.

In March 1988, the Brent Inquiry reached its conclusion at the Old Bailey. Alan Brent pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault on young boys and was jailed for five years. Four other men were given prison sentences ranging from 18 months to two and a half years.


As the Brent Inquiry widened, Hackney police realised the prospect of a link with Jason Swift’s murder grew.  DI Brown instructed the team to question every suspect in the Brent Inquiry about Jason Swift and he supplied them all with photographs of the murdered boy.

They were correct.  A key witness emerged who was 21 and one of the older members of the original family corrupted by Brent. He had been abused for years by the gang and gave a detailed history of how Alan Brent and others had systematically corrupted him, his two younger brothers and other male relatives. He spoke of meeting a boy called Jason in Holt’s shoe shop, a well-known homosexual haunt in Hackney, and identified Jason Swift from a school photograph. He told the police that Jason had been sent to a flat belonging to Robert Oliver on the Kingsmeade Estate.

On Wednesday 24th June, a 16 year old boy told the Brent team that he, too, had been indecently assaulted by Robert Oliver. The detectives tracked Oliver down to a flat occupied by Leslie Bailey’s mother and he was arrested. Leslie Bailey was in the house at the time in a room he shared with Oliver.

Under questioning, Oliver admitted he knew about the death of Jason Swift and that he had met him several times, first through Lennie Smith and Sidney Cooke. Essex police were informed of this development – in their own inquiry into Jason’s death they had 32 lines of enquiry left to deal with. On that list were the names of Sidney Cooke and Lennie Smith.

Oliver’s previous lodgings were searched by police and three prescription bottles of dimazepam were discovered, the tranquiliser found in the bodies of Jason Swift and Barry Lewis.

Detectives were sure he was involved in Jason’s murder, but his account was unconvincing, and there was not enough to charge him with murder. On Friday 26th June he was charged with indecently assaulting Jason, and with two other offences in relation to the Brent Inquiry.

The Hackney Gazette reported on 19 June 1987 and 26th June 1987, that the police might be close to identifying Jason’s killers, linking a Hackney paedophile ring with some of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ convictions, and claiming that 6 charges had already been made, with more expected.

Det Inspector Bob Brown, of Hackney CID, said: “There are certainly common factors between the investigations into child sex activities and those into the murder of Jason Swift.

On 27th June, 1987 the Times reported that a man, who has not been charged, was being quizzed over the killing of Jason Swift and Barry Lewis. Also, that during their inquiries police uncovered a network of alleged child molesters, based in a shop in Mare Street, Hackney, and that six men had already been charged with offences of gross indecency against a number of children aged between five and 15. The Times later reported that a 3rd man, Donald Smith, aged 62, a chef, of Hackney was due in court accused of the murder two years previously of Jason Swift.

Oliver appeared at Old Street Magistrates’ Court on Monday 29th June 1987 and was remanded in custody. A month later, police realised a definitive account of Jason’s murder was eluding them and decided to interview ‘that bloke he was sharing a room with’. Leslie Bailey was found and driven from his flat to the police station, the last ten minutes of freedom in his life. Bailey gave the police a horrific confession, a substantially true account of Jason’s murder and an uncannily accurate account of where the body had been dumped.

On 15th February 1988, committal proceedings against Leslie Bailey, Sidney Cooke, Lennie Smith, Robert Oliver, Steven Barrell and Donald Smith began at Lambeth Magistrates’ Court.

The Jury was sworn in on 20th Feb 1989 for the trial. Leslie Bailey, aged 35, and Robert Oliver, aged 34, both of Hackney, east London, pleaded not guilty to murder.
Sidney Cooke, aged 61, of Homerton, Donald Smith, aged 64, of Hackney, and Stephen Barrell, aged 29, of Dagenham, Essex, denied manslaughter.  All denied sexual charges.

The Times reported on 16th March 1989, that ‘ no evidence was offered against Donald Smith, aged 64, of Ashmead House, Kingsmead estate, the alleged scene of the killing, who was discharged after denying manslaughter, indecent assault and perverting justice.’

The court also heard that Sidney Cooke had made an anonymous call to the police a month after Jason’s body was found saying: “I just want to say it shouldn’t have happened like that. I want you to know it was an accident.” Cooke also claimed he was powerless to stop the killing.

All four men were found guilty of manslaughter on 12th May 1989. It was revealed that ‘A well-organised and financed group of paedophiles operating in east London, which has international links, is believed to have recruited at least 60 boys into their ring. From their headquarters, a shoe shop in Hackney, they produced manuals on how to entice and gain the trust of youngsters before seducing them.’

The sentences were delivered on 15th May 1989.
Sidney Cooke 62 of Kingsmead Estate, Hackney, was sentenced to 19 years.
Leslie Bailey, aged 35, and
Robert Oliver, aged 34, both of Frampton Park Estate, Hackney, were sentenced to 15 years each
Stephen Barrell, 28, of Arnold Road, Dagenham, Essex, was sentenced to 13 1/2 years.

In August 1989, police Operation Orchid was established, to further investigate boys missing in the 1980’s.

Related Videos;
Operation Stranger (Wolf Pack)
Crimewatch Reconstruction – The Lost Boys.
(Part 1 – Operation Stranger; Part 2 – Operation Orchid)


Filed under Abuse, Police Operations