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Third pervert jailed for historical sexual abuse at St Leonard’s Children’s Home in Hornchurch

PUBLISHED: 10:41 13 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:43 13 October 2017

Paul Setchfield, jailed for 11 historic child sexual abuse offences at former St Leonard's Children's Home in Hornchurch. Picture: Met Police

Paul Setchfield, jailed for 11 historic child sexual abuse offences at former St Leonard's Children's Home in Hornchurch. Picture: Met Police

Met Police

A third paedophile has been convicted for historical child sexual abuse at a former Hornchurch children’s home in the 70s and 80s.

Former St Leonard's children's home in Hornchurch. Picture: Historic England Former St Leonard's children's home in Hornchurch. Picture: Historic England

Paul Setchfield, 64, of Cromer, was jailed for nine years yesterday, for 11 counts of indecently assaulting a young girl and boy, both aged under 14, at St Leonard’s Children’s Home, in Hornchurch Road.

The pervert would take his victims into a bed in the staff “sleep over” room, and he also drove the girl to hotels in Kent and Chester, where he would sexually assault them.

Setchfield is the third person from the troubled care home to be imprisoned for historical sexual abuse – which has been the subject of a huge independent inquiry following the Jimmy Savile revelations.

In 2001, the home’s superintendent Alan Prescott and a former house parent Bill Starling stood trial for abusing children.

Prescott admitted indecently assaulting four boys at the home between 1970 and 1980 and Starling was found guilty of 19 offences, including two rapes, over a period of 20 years.

The charges against Setchfield relate to a period between October 1978 and November 1981, when he worked as a house parent at St Leonard’s.

The female victim, who is now in her 40s, contacted police in 2011 after being given access to her social services file.

In two police interviews, she said she was sexually abused by Setchfield at the children’s home when she was under 14 years old.

She explained that on two occasions Setchfield took her into his bed in the staff “sleep over” room, and also to his friend’s flat, where he would assault her.

Snaresbrook Crown Court also heard that Setchfield would drive her to motels in Kent and Chester for secret abuse.

The male victim, who is also now in his 40s, came forward to police in 2013 and said he had witnessed the abuse of the girl.

He stated that Setchfield had got into bed with him and sexually assaulted him, while he was living at St Leonard’s.

When Setchfield was interviewed by detectives in June 2012 and August 2013 he denied the allegations with preprepared statements.

He responded “no comment” to any questions.

Officers managed to corroborate the claims with a number of witnesses, and in May 2016 Setchfield was charged with 11 counts of indecent assault against children.

He was found guilty after a one week trial earlier this month, six years after the investigation first started.

Det Insp Debbie McCormack, of the Met’s Child Abuse and Sexual Offences (CASO) Command, praised “the victims in this case for having the courage to come foward and report the abuse and give evidence in court”.

She said: “I would urge anyone who has suffered abuse to come forward and contact your local police service.

“We take all allegations of this type extremely seriously, and we ensure that victims are supported throughout the process.”

Det Con Daniel Stevens said: “Setchfield continued to deny he was responsible for the abuse, even after being confronted with the compelling testimony from the two victims, along with corroborating witness statements.

“Although it has taken more than 30 years for the victims to gain justice, Setchfield has now been brought to account for his actions.”

Around 3,000 children were sent to St Leonard’s from a variety of London councils, between 1965 and when it closed in 1984.

It had 13 separate cottages, each housing up to 30 children, and its own hospital, gym, swimming pool and church.

Speaking after Prescott and Starling were jailed in 2001, Det Insp Daniel O’Malley said he feared around 70 children could have been abused at St Leonard’s.

He said it showed a “harrowing” tale of systematic child abuse at the homes.

If you would like to report any offences, call 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if you would prefer to remain anonymous.

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