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True crime podcast investigates claims that Essex paedophile ring victims were failed

PUBLISHED: 13:36 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 13:36 17 July 2020

Two men - Brian Tanner (left) and Dennis King (right) - were prosecuted for running a Southend paedophile ring in the late 1980s - but a new podcast series investigates alleged failures in the handling of the case. Picture: Anglia Press Agency.

Two men - Brian Tanner (left) and Dennis King (right) - were prosecuted for running a Southend paedophile ring in the late 1980s - but a new podcast series investigates alleged failures in the handling of the case. Picture: Anglia Press Agency.

Anglia Press Agency

Whistleblowers saved documents charting alleged failures to properly care for “dozens” of Southend children linked to the so-called “Shoebury Sex Ring”, a new documentary reports.

Allegations that children abused by a paedophile ring were let down by Essex County Council are explored in the latest episode of Archant’s new crime podcast.

Episode five of Unfinished: Shoebury’s Lost Boys reveals how a court heard in 1990 that the ring had abused “dozens” of children from Southend-on-Sea – yet civil servants decided only a few boys would receive formal help.

Many of those who never received proper aftercare either died from overdoses and suicides or were sent on a destructive path which marred their lives.

Previous episodes have revealed through interviews and surviving evidence how when charity workers started receiving allegations from victims about alleged police corruption linked to the ring, they were subjected to a campaign of threats and intimidation.

The authorities dubbed the abuse network 'the Shoebury Sex Ring', as ringleader Dennis King and many of his victims came from the seaside town in Southend, Essex. Picture; Yellow Advertiser Archive.The authorities dubbed the abuse network 'the Shoebury Sex Ring', as ringleader Dennis King and many of his victims came from the seaside town in Southend, Essex. Picture; Yellow Advertiser Archive.

The two ringleaders – the only two people ever prosecuted over their involvement – were then given a sweetheart plea deal and the victims, who’d been abused from as young as eight and nine years old, were described in court as prostitutes who had instigated their own abuse.

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Episode four recounted how journalist Charles Thomson unearthed a document which recorded a police officer claiming one of the two ringleaders, Dennis King, was a registered police informant.

In episode five, listeners hear how some whistleblowers retained hundreds of pages of documents which recorded in real time their concerns over Social Services’ handling of the case.

Whistleblowers retained hundreds of documents from the case, long after records held by many official bodies either vanished or were destroyed. Picture: Charles Thomson.Whistleblowers retained hundreds of documents from the case, long after records held by many official bodies either vanished or were destroyed. Picture: Charles Thomson.

Charles said: “Some sources gave me access to reports, minutes, letters, memos and handwritten notes which, between them, provided almost a week by week chronology of the quest to secure proper aftercare for the Shoebury victims.

“The sort of failures detailed in that paperwork were also later observed by Government inspectors, who visited the Essex Social Services department and wrote a pretty scathing report. But by then, it was too late for the Shoebury boys.”

Future episodes will cover two fresh police investigations sparked by Charles’s investigation and how evidence from one victim helped to uncover a link between the Shoebury gang and one of the UK’s most notorious murder cases.

In 2016, when Charles’s work provoked a new police investigation, Essex Council said it was aware of historic allegations and encouraged anybody with information to approach police.

To listen and subscribe, visit: www.podfollow.com/unfinished-1/


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