Category Archives: Police Operations

The Henriques Report

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

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Pages 68 – 73
Summary of Recommendations:-

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

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

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And this the statement from the MET Police;
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The Henriques Report (and the other documents) can be found HERE

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

This document can be found HERE

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Operation Stranger: Walter Ballantyne

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

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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

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

Friday, 11th November 1988

The Lord Chief Justice of England (Lord Lane)

Regina

v.

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.

JUDGMENT

(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

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Timeline: Sidney Cooke And Associates

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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Sidney Cooke

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

oliver

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.

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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.

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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.

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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’

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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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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

Before:

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

Regina

v. Bryan Maurice Owen

and

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.

JUDGMENT

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.

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