Harry Day trial latest

PENSIONER Henry Day - accused of systematically abusing eight boys at a Norfolk youth camp - yesterday denied the sex crimes and insisted he only ever wanted to help young people.

PENSIONER Henry Day - accused of systematically abusing eight boys at a Norfolk youth camp - yesterday denied the sex crimes and insisted he only ever wanted to help young people.

The founder of the Young Citizens' Guild, based at Hemsby, near Yarmouth, now faces 21 counts of indecent assault, indecent assault against under-16s, incitement to indecent assault and carrying out a sexual act.

He was yesterday found not guilty, by direction of Judge Simon Barham, of one count of incitement.

The 70-year-old firmly denied each allegation of abusing the boys, repeatedly replying “no way” and “definitely not” as a list of lurid acts were put to him. Defence counsel has already suggested the victims may have conspired together to make up the allegations.

Day told Norwich Crown Court that he founded the guild in 1957 in Dagenham, when he was aged 18, as he was fed-up of young people being given a bad press. The guild later moved to Norfolk after it was given the land at Hemsby.

He added: “I was doing a job for parents and I was entrusted with their responsibility. If I took somebody's child away with me, I took responsibility for them and I carried out my responsibility to its limits.

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“I did the best I humanly could for my members and their parents.”

Day, known as Harry, of Wood View, North Walsham, admitted that boys would often sleep alone with him in his caravan. But he said they were there to protect him.

He said: “The nature of our work was we were dealing with emergency calls and first aid and we were open 24 hours. You could have anyone coming to the caravan at any time.

“If somebody came to the door and I was on my own - for example if it was a woman who was alone - we didn't want any embarrassing suggestions.”

Opening the case last month, prosecutor Andrew Shaw said the boys “were sexually abused by a man who the rest of the world saw as a hero”.

Day was made an MBE for his work with children and had links with royalty, police chiefs and other emergency services.

Victims said they were afraid to come forward as he had “friends in high places” and thought their stories would not be believed.

Witnesses said Day's “favourites” and “blue eyed boys” would be invited to share his caravan, often provoking jealously in other members. It was there that most of the abuse is claimed to have taken place. Those he allegedly abused were rewarded with promotion through the guild's ranks, tuck-shop money, alcohol and cigarettes, they said.

Speaking yesterday, Day said members were allowed to drink alcohol from the age of 16, but said accounts that some members got excessively drunk were untrue. Younger members would only be allowed weak shandy. He said he would only occasionally give cigarettes to boys if they pestered him.

Alleged incidents include carrying out sexual acts with boys on the guild's mini-bus while others slept in the back. He denied that any such incident occurred.

In another alleged attack, he is said to have taken on boy into a swimming pool while on a trip to Yorkshire where he locked the door and made him swim naked before abusing him.

Day told the court that he had supervised the boy, who had worn his trunks at all times, as he had recently suffered an injury and was vulnerable. He said no abuse took place.

He is also alleged to have touched boys during “rough play”. However, he told the jury, that he had actively tried to stamp out such rough play, saying: “They new it would not be tolerated.”

The charges date over a period from 1973 to 1995. He also denies perverting the course of justice after allegedly contacting a witness in the case in an attempt to persuade them to support his story.

His evidence will continue today.