Search

Sex abuser: Are there more victims?

PUBLISHED: 11:04 22 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:49 03 July 2010

Harry Day, during his time as commissioner of the Young Citizens Guild at Hemsby. Photo taken on April 21, 1981.

Harry Day, during his time as commissioner of the Young Citizens Guild at Hemsby. Photo taken on April 21, 1981.

Ben Kendall

Disgraced Norfolk youth leader Henry Day may have abused generations of children who have not yet come forward, it emerged last night as he was convicted of a string of offences.

The 70-year-old MBE, known as Harry, was yesterday found guilty of 21 counts of sexual abuse against young boys, after jurors heard that he subjected members of the Norfolk-based Young Citizens Guild to systematic attacks.

Harry Day outside court.

Disgraced Norfolk youth leader Henry Day may have abused generations of children who have not yet come forward, it emerged last night as he was convicted of a string of offences.

The 70-year-old MBE, known as Harry, was yesterday found guilty of 21 counts of sexual abuse against young boys, after jurors heard that he subjected members of the Norfolk-based Young Citizens Guild to systematic attacks. He was jailed for 13 years and his barrister said he would almost certainly die behind bars.

Norfolk police has launched a hotline to allow anyone who has concerns relating to Day or the guild to come forward and speak to officers. They have not ruled out further prosecutions.

An EDP investigation has found five people who say that they, or people close to them, were abused during their time in the guild. At least one potential victim - who alleged abuse in 1969 - took their secret to the grave after Day threatened their family with legal action if they spoke out.

Speaking after the case at Norwich Crown Court, Det Supt Chris Hobley, who leads the force's vulnerable people directorate, said: “It is always difficult for people to come forward in sensitive cases like this. After this conviction they may see that they were not alone and feel able to speak to us.

“Given the period of time we are talking about, it would be naïve to say that there are no other victims out there. Any allegation that is made will be treated seriously and investigated thoroughly.”

The charges relate to eight boys, all now adults, who were groomed and abused over more than 20 years at the Hemsby camp founded by Day, of Wood View, North Walsham. The offences date between 1973 and 1995.

Day looked stony-faced as the jury of six men and six women delivered their unanimous verdicts after six and a half hours of deliberation.

Passing sentence, Judge Simon Barham said: “It is clear that you planned your offending carefully and you chose your victims carefully. Many were vulnerable, two had recently lost their fathers and another had suffered a serious head injured shortly before you abused him.

“Your victims were aware of your standing in the community and the influence you had with important people. They believed that as children from poor backgrounds they would not be believed if they reported it.

“This was the grossest possible breach of trust. You cynically used the organisation as a means of committing sexual offences against boys entrusted to your care.”

Outside court the first victim to contact police, who cannot be named for legal reasons, welcomed the sentence. He said: “I have lived with this all my life and, in many ways, he has ruined my life.

“I have alcohol and drug problems and my marriage failed because I was struggling to cope with what he did to me.

“Nothing will repair the damage he did, but at least now I know that justice is done and people know what he is really like.”

Another said: “He stole my childhood. One attack which lasted for 10 minutes was so bad that I have had to block out virtually my entire childhood because all my memories are ruined by it.”

During the trial, which lasted more than four weeks, jurors heard how Day set up the Young Citizens Guild in 1957 with the aim of helping young people become responsible members of society. He was courted by royalty, community leaders and police chiefs.

Those that were invited to share his caravan - a privilege which other children aspired to - would be rewarded with alcohol, cigarettes and tuck-shop money. Much of the abuse is alleged to have happened in this caravan or while travelling on the front seat of a mini-bus as other children slept in the back.

Simon Spence, in mitigation, said: “This was not an organisation set up by the defendant in order to abuse young men. It was an extremely worthy organisation.

“It is to the credit of some of those who, on the jury's verdict, the defendant abused that they recognise this.”

Day had denied 21 offences including indecent assault, indecent assault against under-16s, incitement to indecent assault and carrying out a serious sexual act without consent. He was also convicted of perverting the course of justice after allegedly contacting a witness in the case.

He was added to the sex offenders register for life and was banned from working with children.

t An advice line has been set up by Norfolk police and will run for three days. Anyone with concerns should contact the force on 0845 4564567 or Norfolk County Victims Support on 01603 767383.

Most Read

Latest from the Great Yarmouth Mercury

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists