Eight jailed after three decades of sex abuse

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The Independent Online
EIGHT PEOPLE - including four members of the same family - were yesterday jailed for their part in a sex abuse ring in the West Country which remained undiscovered for more than three decades.

In what is believed to be the largest number of offences by one family ever brought to court, nine people were convicted of a total of 79 charges of rape, indecent assault and serious sexual offences between 1961 and 1995. One was given a suspended sentence.

Both children and grandchildren were abused, and Judge William Taylor told the packed Crown Court that what took place over 35 years was "wickedness beyond belief."

The sentencing included the grandparents of the family, two of their sons and one daughter as well her husband, one of the sons' wives, a male cousin and an elderly neighbour.

The judge jailed the grandfather of the family for 25 years, telling him he had "dragged" his wife and family into abuse.

His wife was jailed for a total of 14 years by Judge Taylor, who told her she had "totally abrogated" her responsibility as a mother because she had known from the beginning what her husband was doing to their children.

The grandparents had had seven children - three sons and four daughters. "You corrupted each in turn," the judge told the couple. The children were encouraged or forced to abuse each other, and other family members, neighbours and friends were invited to "use" them.

Police investigations first began into suspicions of abuse in 1992, but there was insufficient evidence to bring charges. The abusers were finally brought to the dock in 1996 when more information came to light.

The couple's son-in-law was jailed for 18 years and his wife, was sentenced to two years, sentence suspended for two years, after admitting a charge of rape involving her daughter.

Two of the grandparents' three sons also appeared in the dock. One was convicted of offences involving his two daughters and two nieces and jailed for 14 years. His wife was jailed for five years. The other son, who had also been abused, was convicted of one offence of raping one of his sisters at knifepoint when he was 16, and was jailed for three years.

The others who were jailed included an elderly neighbour of the family jailed for 16 years and a male cousin jailed for five years.