Wales

Kidwelly sex cult members face long jail sentences

Members of a sex cult in a small Carmarthenshire town have been warned they face long prison sentences.

Cult leader Colin Batley, 48, was found guilty of more than 35 offences against children and young adults.

Batley had moved from London to Kidwelly as the self-styled high priest of the occult group which brainwashed and abused children.

Three women, including his wife, were also convicted. The Swansea Crown Court judge said they faced vast jail terms.

They will be sentenced on Friday.

The jury rejected claims by Batley and other defendants during the trial that no cult existed.

The court heard how the cult operated from a number of homes in a cul-de-sac, Clos yr Onnen, in Kidwelly.

Batley, his wife Elaine and two other women who all lived in the street took part in a catalogue of abuse against children and young adults.

Victims said the group used occult writings and practices to "brainwash" them, and justify their abuse.

Batley used his position as the cult leader to rape boys and girls.

One of his victims told the court that when she became pregnant as a young teenager, Batley told her the unborn baby was a "child of the occult" and threatened to kill her if she spoke out.

Batley was found guilty of 35 offences, including 11 rapes, three indecent assaults, causing prostitution for personal gain, causing a child to have sex and inciting a child to have sex.

His wife Elaine Batley, 47, was convicted of five sex-related offences. Jacqueline Marling, 42, was found guilty on five charges and Shelley Millar, 35, two.

Another woman, Sandra Iveson, 45, was cleared of the one charge she faced of indecency with a child.

A sixth defendant, Vincent Barden, 70, from Kempston, Bedfordshire, who is unconnected with the cult, was found not guilty of rape, but had already admitted indecent assault.

Before the trial Batley had already admitted indecent assault.

Judge Thomas indicated he would sentence the four cult members and Barden on Friday, saying they had been found guilty of "extremely serious charges".

For Dyfed-Powys Police, Ch Insp Richard Lewis said: "This was a very protracted and complicated inquiry involving a very secretive group.

"There was systematic and prolonged abuse of children involving a limited number of abusers.

"We know this case did not impact on the wider community, but acknowledge the suffering which the victims had to endure over all those years.

'Distressing case'

"They showed great courage in coming forward to report it."

In a statement following the convictions, Carmarthenshire council's local safeguarding children's board expressed "sincere sympathy" for the victims and their families in this "distressing" case.

"It is a sad fact that there are a small number of individuals who engage in systematic, secretive and prolonged sexual abuse of children and we are pleased that the offenders have been brought to justice in this case today," the statement said.

"Whenever a child has been hurt or abused all of the statutory agencies in the county (police, probation, social care and health) look carefully at any involvement they have had to see if anything can be learnt from the history of the case even when, as in this case, many of the offences were more than 10 years ago."

The board said while there was no evidence of any "non-compliance with child protection procedures and guidance" it was standard procedure to consider "in detail any agency's involvement with both the victims and offenders".

This was "to ensure we minimise the opportunity, in the future, of offenders operating in the secretive and damaging way that these offenders have done".

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