Child sex abuse: paedophile gang of 21 people convicted in force’s largest ever child sex ring investigation

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The children, all of whom were under the age of 12 at the time of the offending, were subjected to the “most appalling catalogue of sexual abuse”.

Twenty-one people have been convicted of “abhorrent and cruel” sexual offences against seven children in what is being described as the biggest investigation in West Midlands Police’s history.

The victims, all of whom were under the age of 12 at the time of the crimes, were said to have been subjected to the “most appalling catalogue of sexual abuse”. The depraved offending spanned over nearly a decade, and took place in Warsall and Wolverhampton.

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Of the 21 paedophiles who were involved in the case, thirteen have been jailed - with sentences ranging from 28 months to life imprisonment. Four have been given non-custodial sentences, and four others are to be sentenced at a later date.

West Midlands Police’s investigation first began in 2017, after concerns were raised following a hospital visit by one of the victims. The trial process was then delayed due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns - with the case only now able to be reported on because a series of trials which began last year have come to an end.

Det Ch Supt Paul Drover, who led the investigation, said that the offences against the children were “some of the most shocking abuse that [he had] seen in [his] career”. He said that at the heart of the “challenging and complex” investigation were “seven children who suffered the most abhorrent and cruel abuse, not just physically but psychologically, leaving them in extreme trauma.”

Top Left - Top Right: David Baker, Kirsty Webb, Natalie Wellington. Bottom Left - Bottom Right: James Evans, Mark Smith, Tracey Baker. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands PoliceTop Left - Top Right: David Baker, Kirsty Webb, Natalie Wellington. Bottom Left - Bottom Right: James Evans, Mark Smith, Tracey Baker. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands Police
Top Left - Top Right: David Baker, Kirsty Webb, Natalie Wellington. Bottom Left - Bottom Right: James Evans, Mark Smith, Tracey Baker. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands Police | Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands Police

He commended their bravery in coming forward to speak about their experience, and added that he hopes the conviction shows that the police are determined to bring offenders to justice. “Anyone who has suffered or is still suffering sexual abuse, should not be afraid to tell someone, either police, a teacher, a doctor, or anyone else they feel they can trust,” he said.

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Meanwhile, senior investigating officer Joanne Floyd, who spent six years working on this case, said the force’s “hearts go out to the victims.” She continued: “From a personal perspective I want to stress how difficult this journey has been and how much courage these young people have shown. It’s a particularly sad case and no-one has been left unaffected, whether directly involved or working as a professional. It will remain with us.”

Top Left - Right: Anne Marie Claire, Pam Howells. Bottom Left - Right: Lee Webb, Phillip Wellington. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands PoliceTop Left - Right: Anne Marie Claire, Pam Howells. Bottom Left - Right: Lee Webb, Phillip Wellington. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands Police
Top Left - Right: Anne Marie Claire, Pam Howells. Bottom Left - Right: Lee Webb, Phillip Wellington. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands Police | Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands Police

Joanne Jakymec, chief crown prosecutor, commented: “The offenders in this case perpetrated the most appalling catalogue of sexual abuse of the utmost gravity, causing the victims physical harm and extreme psychological harm.” She also explained that three separate trials were held due to the sheer number of defendants involved.

Twenty two people faced three trials, with the first taking place between January and May 2022, the second between September 2022 and January 2023, and the third reaching a verdict on 5 April 2023. The three defendants convicted in the final trial will be sentenced on 12 May.

The defendants faced serious child sex abuse and child cruelty charges:

  • James Evans, 38, was found guilty of 20 child sexual abuse related offences and jailed for a minimum term of 18 years. He was also given a restraining order and sexual harm prevention order for life.
  • David Baker, 41, was found guilty of 7 child sexual abuse related offences and jailed for 20 years, with a further year on licence. He was also given a restraining order and sexual harm prevention order for life.
  • Mark Smith, 34, was found guilty of 4 child sexual abuse related offences and jailed for 19 years, with a further 6 on licence. He was also given a restraining order for life and a sexual harm prevention order for 30 years.
  • Natalie Wellington, 44, was found guilty of 4 child sexual abuse related offences and jailed for 16 years, with a further year on licence. She was also given a restraining order and sexual harm prevention order for life.
  • Tracey Baker, 41, was found guilty of 5 child sexual abuse related offences and jailed for 15 years, with a further year on licence. She was also given an indefinite restraining order and sexual harm prevention order.
  • Kirsty Webb, 36, was found guilty of 5 child sexual abuse related offences and jailed for 10 years. She was also given an indefinite restraining order and a sexual harm prevention order for 30 years.
  • Philip Wellington, 50, was found guilty of 3 child sexual abuse related offences and jailed for 9 years. He was also given an indefinite restraining order and an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.
  • Ann Marie Clare, 43, was found guilty of 4 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, with an extended licence period of 3 years. She was also given an indefinite restraining order and a sexual harm prevention order for 30 years.
  • Pamela Howells, 58, was found guilty of 3 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. She was also given an indefinite restraining order and a sexual harm prevention order for 15 years.
  • Lee Webb, 40, was found guilty of 3 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. He was also given an indefinite restraining order and a sexual harm prevention order for 30 years.
Top Left - Right: Jason Evans, Matthew Evans, Violet Griffiths. Bottom Left - Right: Luke Baker, David Evans, Natasha Webb. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands PoliceTop Left - Right: Jason Evans, Matthew Evans, Violet Griffiths. Bottom Left - Right: Luke Baker, David Evans, Natasha Webb. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands Police
Top Left - Right: Jason Evans, Matthew Evans, Violet Griffiths. Bottom Left - Right: Luke Baker, David Evans, Natasha Webb. Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands Police | Credit: Kim Mogg / NationalWorld / West Midlands Police
  • David Evans, 72, was found guilty of 2 child sexual abuse related offences and was sentenced to 3 years, 6 months imprisonment. He was also given an indefinite restraining order and an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.
  • Jason Evans, 25, was found guilty of 3 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 2 years and 6 months imprisonment. He was also given a restraining order which will last until further notice and a sexual harm prevention order for 15 years.
  • Luke Baker, 22, was found guilty of 2 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 2 years and 4 months imprisonment. He was also given a restraining order which will last until further notice and a sexual harm prevention order for 15 years.
  • Ryan Evans, 23, was found guilty of 1 child sexual abuse related offence and was sentenced to a community order for 3 years, a restraining order to last until further order, and a sexual harm prevention order for 15 years.
  • Stephen Webb, 65, was found not fit to plead and given an absolute discharge due to health conditions. The jury decided that he had committed the acts alleged, and he was told he must notify as a sex offender for five years.
  • Dean Webb, 35, was also found not fit to plead. The jury decided that he had committed the acts alleged, and he received a two year supervision order and a 40 year sexual harm prevention order. He must notify as a sex offender for five years.
  • Jane Evans, 71, was also found not fit to plead. The jury decided that she had committed the acts alleged, and she was sentenced to a two year supervision order and an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.
  • Natasha Webb, 37, is to be sentenced at a future date.
  • Matthew Evans, 32, has been found guilty of 2 child sexual abuse related offences and will be sentenced at a later date.
  • John Griffiths, 66, has been found guilty of 2 child sexual abuse related offences and will be sentenced at a later date.
  • Violet Griffiths, 66, has been found guilty of 2 child sexual abuse related offences and will be sentenced at a later date.

Tina Jones, 62, was found not guilty by the court.

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