Several of the men and women he abused over a 20-year period clapped and cheered from the public gallery of Chester Crown Court as Keith Laverack, a former senior social services manager, was sentenced.
Passing sentence, Judge Huw Daniel summarised two dec- ades of horrific abuse dealt out by Laverack, saying it was unquestionably the most serious case of its kind he could remember and that it would cause tremendous public outrage.
The 52-year-old had denied 20 charges of sexually assaulting young people during a career of more than 20 years as a teacher and headmaster at children's homes in Cheshire and Cambridgeshire.
However, the jury of eight women and four men found him guilty of 15 of the charges - 11 of buggery and four of indecent assault.
Laverack stood with his head bowed in the dock, occasionally closing his eyes as Judge Daniel passed sentence. The judge told him he had taken advantage of damaged children to satisfy his "perverted lusts", knowing full well all his victims wanted was love, affection and security.
"None of those young children you buggered consented to what happened to them. They were raped, many of them, by you with violence and force. They submitted through fear of violence," said Judge Daniel, adding that there was little else the children could do, and they were humiliated and oppressed in their own minds by what happened to them.
"They had to live with it for years, locking it away, trying not to think of the appalling things you did to them," he said.
"You made them go through the ordeal of having to recall what happened to them and suffer what many of them regard as public humiliation by having to go through the whole thing in public in giving evidence.
"You were merciless to them at the time and you showed no mercy when you were found out. You abused your position of power, the position of trust in which you were, in the worst possible way."
Judge Daniel told Laverack he had abused the children at every available opportunity.
"You were confident you could get away with it because the system allowed you to get away with it and you ensured the silence of these children by threats and sweet talk, confident in the knowledge that if these children did complain they would not be believed," he said.
"It is worthy of note that your career paedophilia started the moment you became a master, the first permanent appointment you had at Greystone Heath [approved school in Warrington, Cheshire] at the age of 21 or 22 and behaved that way until 1987 or thereabouts - a period in excess of 20 years."
The judge said there had been three distinct periods of abuse on boys and girls at the three children's homes, and there had to be consecutive jail sentences of six years on the buggery charges relating to each home. He said while there had been gaps in between where Laverack appeared to have controlled his urges to an extent, he had reverted to child abuse on every occasion.
When the applause from the public gallery died down after Laverack was taken away, Judge Daniel told the abuse victims in court: "I hope this has brought some substantial consolation to those who suffered at this man's hands." The court once more erupted into applause.Reuse content