Aycliffe Young People’s Center, Darlington, Stockton on Tees
Former County Durham house master cleared of sex abuse
A former County Durham school house master has been cleared of sexual abuse charges after a judge concluded police handling the case acted improperly.
Rod Ryall, 68, of Wheatley Drive, Mirfield, West Yorkshire, had denied 10 counts of indecent assault on three children in the 1960s and 1970s.
The judge hearing the case directed jurors to return not guilty verdicts amid criticism of Durham Police.
School master ‘carried out string of sex attacks’
Former house master in sex assault inquiry
AN ex-social services chief has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting youngsters at a North-East children’s centre that has housed some of the UK’s most notorious juvenile criminals.
Rod Ryall, 67, was a live-in house master at Aycliffe Approved School, off the A167, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, in the Sixties.
He was arrested last week and an investigation into the school, now known as Aycliffe Secure Services, is under way.
15 years prison for sex shame politician
A FORMER North-East aide of Prime Minister Tony Blair has been jailed for 15 years for an “appalling” string of sex offences against teenage boys.
Martyn Locklin, 41, of Ladybower, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, was found guilty by the jury of eight men and four women at Teesside Crown Court yesterday.
Locklin, a leading Labour party activist in Sedgefield, stood impassively in the dock as the jury delivered guilty verdicts on eight charges, including rape.
Last night, the Labour Party said Locklin, who has shown Mr Blair around the area on several occasions, had no special relationship with the Prime Minister.
Locklin’s barrister, Tim Roberts, said that he would immediately appeal against the conviction. “Martyn Locklin maintains that he is completely innocent of the alleged offences,” he said.
“No conviction based upon the word of self-confessed criminals and perjurers can possibly be regarded as safe.
“Martyn Locklin would like to thank the Newton Aycliffe community for the support which they have afforded his family.”
The former leader of Great Aycliffe Town Council was convicted of two indecent assaults against one teenager; one serious sexual offence, two counts of rape and one of indecent assault against a second youngster; and two counts of indecent assault against a third boy. All the offences took place between 1988 and 1996.
The jury had earlier been directed to deliver a not guilty verdict on one charge of indecent assault on the first boy.
During the three-week trial, the court heard that Locklin, a house parent at Aycliffe Young People’s Centre, had breached his position of trust and abused one teenage resident there, visiting him in his room at night on more than 30 occasions.
A second boy was systematically raped and sexually abused at weekends in Locklin’s home for more than two years, while his partner Denise Anderson and stepsons slept upstairs, the jury heard.
All three members of the family told the court it was “not possible” for the attacks to have happened, and said Locklin was a good father .
The third boy said he, too, had been sexually abused in Locklin’s home over a two-month period. All three said they had been plied with drink and cannabis and were given gifts such as tobacco, clothes and cash to buy their silence.
Judge Peter Fox QC described the abuse as “appalling” and said: “This reflects a gross breach of trust on your part in respect of young boys in their mid-teens, two of whom you owed a particular duty of trust.”
The judge said Locklin had groomed and seduced the boys and added: “The damage, and over such a prolonged period in such a devastating way can hardly be estimated.”
Locklin was sentenced to ten years concurrent for the assault of the first two boys and five years consecutive for the repeated abuse of the third.
The judge placed Locklin on the sex offenders register for life and said: “You will be watched for the remainder of your days. You need to be.”
John Burton, Tony Blair’s agent, said Martyn Locklin had been a hard working councillor. He added: “Obviously our sympathies at this time have got to be with the families and with the victims themselves.”
Bob Fleming, leader of Great Aycliffe Town Council, said: “He’s been found guilty of horrendous crimes and as a result of that he deserves to go to prison for a long time.
“This will come as a shock to many people because he had many friends who stood by him through thick and thin .”
* Detectives last night said they believed there could be more victims of Locklin who were “too ashamed or frightened” to come forward. Anyone with information should contact Newton Aycliffe police on (01325) 314401.
Youth was raped by Tony Blair’s aide, court told
A YOUNGSTER claimed to have been raped once a month for two years by a former aide to Prime Minister Tony Blair, a court heard yesterday.
The young man, who is serving life imprisonment for murder, was giving evidence in the trial of Martyn Locklin, a senior Labour councillor in Mr Blair’s Sedgefield constituency, at Teesside Crown Court.
Mr Locklin, 41, of Ladybower, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, faces three counts of indecent assault against one boy, and two counts of indecent assault against another.
He also faces a charge involving a serious sexual assault, two counts of rape and one of indecent assault against a third boy.
The Sedgefield borough and Great Aycliffe town councillor denies all the charges, which were alleged to have taken place between 1988 and 1996.
Yesterday, the court heard from former employees of Aycliffe Young People’s Centre, where Mr Locklin was employed during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and where one alleged victim claimed to have been sexually assaulted.
Two former night watchmen who worked with Mr Locklin claimed the councillor had smoked cannabis while caring for youngsters at the centre.
And one alleged victim told the court he was raped and sexually assaulted by Mr Locklin weekly for two years while he was aged between 15 and 17.
He said Mr Locklin would give him alcohol and cannabis before sexually assaulting him.
Now in his 20s, he said: “I felt helpless, ashamed and frightened.”
The man, serving a life sentence for murder, said the abuse ended when he pulled a knife on the councillor and ran off.
Tim Roberts, for Mr Locklin, put it to the man that he had lied to a jury during his murder trial and committed perjury, which the man admitted.
Before he had met Mr Locklin, he had been involved in sexual behaviour with a 63-year-old man.
Earlier, the court heard how Mr Locklin was a “strong and manipulative character”.
After leaving the centre, Mr Locklin immersed himself in local politics and by the time he was charged in May he was leader of Great Aycliffe Town Council.
The prosecution claims he abused his position of trust while working as a care worker at the home.
The trial continues.