BRITAIN'S most notorious serial child abuser, Frank Beck, may also have been responsible for the murder of a 12-year-old child in his care, according to a new book.
Beck was sentenced in 1991 to five terms of life imprisonment for sexually abusing children while he was manager of children's homes for Leicestershire County Council. He sexually and physically abused some 200 children.
He was never tried for murder, but evidence has now emerged that a 12- year-old boy, Simon O'Donnell, was killed by being throttled by Beck and co-worker Colin Fiddaman while being sexually abused.
At the time, the inquest into Simon's death concluded he had committed suicide after running away from a children's home run by Beck.
However, other children living in the home at the time have now given evidence saying that the injuries to O'Donnell were consistent with the system of restraint used by Beck and Fiddaman, where they wrapped a towel around a child's neck while abusing them.
One former resident, Peter Bastin, says that he witnessed Beck and Fiddaman removing O'Donnell's body from the home on the night before the child was found dead in a local factory.
Peter Bastin was this year awarded a rumoured pounds 50,000 compensation for the abuse and suffering he received from Beck, which, he claimed, helped turn him into a child abuser. Bastin was convicted in 1979 of raping and murdering a boy of 10. The child was also restrained around the neck while being abused by Bastin, imitating the treatment he had received from Beck.
Bastin was one of four Beck victims who went on to become murderers, lending credence to experts who believe that victims of child abuse are more likely to become abusers themselves.
Frank Beck ran children's homes in Leicestershire from 1973 until 1986, but it has only now become clear that he operated as part of a network of abusers.
The main abuser who worked alongside Beck was Fiddaman, who committed suicide in 1991 while on bail. Fiddaman is described by former children in care as having not only sexually abused them, but as having run a torture regime in the homes.
Beck developed a reputation as one of the country's leading child care gurus. He developed his own form of treatment for psychologically damaged children - so-called "regression therapy", which allowed him to dress teenagers in nappies and bathe them, and gave him a cover for sexually abusing them.
Beck died in Whitemoor prison in 1994, after suffering a heart attack while playing badminton.
Rumours continue to circulate that amphetamines were introduced into his food by other prisoners to induce heart failure.
"Abuse of Trust - Frank Beck and the Leicestershire Children's Homes Scandal" is written by Mark D'Arcy and Paul Gosling, and will be published by Bowerdean on 30 April.
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