Seven members of paedophile gang guilty of running ‘monstrous’ child sex abuse ring

Glasgow child abuse defendants
Top row, left to right: Iain Owens, Elaine Lannery, Lesley Williams, Paul Brannan. Bottom row, left to right: Scott Forbes, Barry Watson, and John Clark (Image: Spindrift)

Seven members of a paedophile gang who posed as “witches and wizards” have been found guilty of running a “monstrous” child sex abuse ring in a Glasgow drugs den.

In what the NSPCC children’s charity called one of the worst cases in recent decades, 11 members of a paedophile gang faced a string of charges against three children.

Seven members were found guilty of sexual assault and rape by a jury at Glasgow High Court on Tuesday.

Warning: This story contains graphic content and details of sexual abuse.

The trial, spanning more than two months, was told that the primary school-aged children were plied with alcohol and cocaine while being subjected to a campaign of sexual depravity, including group rapes, at various properties.

The heroin addicts organised regular gatherings to carry out the brutal violence between 2010 and 2020.

Older children were forced to abuse a younger child during prolonged attacks, referred to in court as “child rape nights”.

The youths, who referred to the location of their abuse as the “beasty house”, claimed money was exchanged after the heinous sex attacks while some of the sex offenders laughed.

Iain Owens, 45, Elaine Lannery, 39, Lesley Williams, 41, Paul Brannan, 41, Scott Forbes, 50, Barry Watson, 47, and John Clark, 46, were all found guilty of rape and sexual assault.

Owens, Lannery, Williams and Brannan were also found guilty of attempted murder.

Owens, Williams and Brannan were also found guilty of drugs offences.

Marianne Gallagher was convicted of assault but cleared of other charges.

Three others were acquitted of all charges.

The sentencing by Judge Lord Beckett will be at the High Court in Glasgow on 4 January.

The main entrance to Glasgow's High Court of Justiciary Pic:Istock
Glasgow High Court. 

 

During pre-recorded testimony and police interviews with several of the young victims, the jury was told that one child was put inside a microwave, an oven, a fridge and a freezer in an attempt to murder them.

The children believed their attackers were witches and wizards who had the ability to turn them into dogs and cats with their “magic wands”.

The court was told one boy was said to have become “desensitised” to what was inflicted on him, while other children described being subjected to a “scary and confusing world”.

A former partner of one of those convicted spoke to Sky News about her shock at discovering her ex was a predator.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, said: “Any parent hearing this that somebody you used to go out with. You just want to be violently sick.

“I hope they get the book thrown at them. I do not condone violence, but I really hope, when they get sentenced, they will get what is coming to them. Karma gets you.”

Defence lawyers had argued the children may not have been telling the truth, but prosecutors said it would be “off the scale devious” to make up crimes of the “most monstrous kind”.

The jury was told one of the child victims said: “Two witches holded [sic] my legs down, it felt uncomfortable, all the witches and wizards were watching.”

It was also alleged that a Ouija board was used to “call on spirits and demons” causing the children to “believe that they could see, hear and communicate with spirits and demons”.

Matt Forde, the NSPCC’s development director, told Sky News: “This is really is a truly shocking case.

“To think that children could have the experiences that have been described.

“It really is highly unusual case. There have been some horrendous cases over the decades. But this one is truly shocking and the public will find it difficult to think that children can have experiences like this, that they can be exposed to such wilful and awful treatment such horrendous abuse.”

Mr Forde added: “You can only imagine the terror and miserable existence that these children had.”

Following the convictions, Police Scotland held a press conference and said more than 1,000 lines of inquiry were progressed by the investigation team.

Detective Superintendent Nicola Kilbane said: “This has been a horrific ordeal for the young victims who were subjected to years of unimaginable abuse. Our thoughts are with them today and I hope this outcome can help them in moving forward.

“The levels of depravity shown in this case are extremely rare in Scotland and the courage of the victims was essential in securing this conviction.

“This was a long, complex and challenging investigation for a team of officers and staff who had to work through the most harrowing evidence to bring those responsible for these despicable crimes to justice.

“We remain committed to supporting victims of sexual crime and protecting children from harm and abuse.

“We will use all available resources to find and arrest the abusers, no matter how much time has passed.

“I would urge anyone who is a victim of abuse to speak to police in the knowledge you will be listened to, taken seriously and fully supported.

“Since the investigation began we’ve worked closely with a range of partners in social work, health, education, Crown Office and the third sector to protect and support the victims.”

DS Kilbane confirmed a multi-agency learning review will be conducted on the back of the criminal proceedings.

Source:  Sky News news.sky.com

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