Norfolk child sex abuse case: Marie Black guilty

Marie Black, Michael Rodgers, Jason Adams Image copyright Norfolk Police
Image caption Marie Black, Michael Rogers and Jason Adams preyed on children aged under 13

A woman said to be at the centre of an abuse ring has been found guilty of child sex offences.

Marie Black, 34, of Norwich, stood trial with nine others, including five women, at Norwich Crown Court.

Black denied 26 charges. A jury found her guilty of all but three counts.

She was convicted of offences including rape and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. Two men were found guilty of child sex abuse and another woman was found guilty of assault.

Michael Rogers, 53, from Romford, was found guilty of 14 counts including cruelty, rape and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Jason Adams, 43, from Norwich, was convicted of 13 similar counts.

Carol Stadler, 60, from Atkinson Close, Bowthorpe, Norwich, was found guilty of assault causing actual bodily harm but cleared of nine other charges, including serious sexual assaults.

They are due to be sentenced on 28 September.

Six other defendants, Anthony Stadler, 63, Nicola Collins, 36, Andrew Collins, 52, Judith Fuller, 32, Denise Barnes, 34, and Kathleen Adams, 84, all from Norwich, were cleared of all charges.

Image caption Marie Black's defence was that she was the victim of a terrible combination of circumstances

Black sobbed uncontrollably in the dock as the verdicts were delivered.

Opening the trial, prosecutor Angela Rafferty QC said Black, previously known as Marie Adams, played an instrumental role in using the five children as "sexual playthings".

Abused at parties

The abuse, which is said to have happened in and around Norwich and London, included forcing the children to have sex with one another.

On some occasions, the adults threw parties and played card games to decide who would abuse which child, Mrs Rafferty said.

In interviews the victims described how they were abused in front of one another and other adults.

Some of the abuse involved children's toys, including Barbie dolls.

All of the defendants denied abusing the children, saying it simply did not happen.

During the trial it emerged police had launched an investigation into the conduct of one agency social worker involved in the case.

Image copyright Norfolk Police
Image caption Carol Stadler was convicted of assault

The court heard that the trial had originally been due to start last year only to be delayed when prosecutors raised concerns over changes made by social workers to statements taken from the children.

This resulted in Norfolk Police launching an investigation into anomalies in documents. Prosecutors decided no action should be taken, Norfolk Police said after the trial.

A police spokeswoman added: "There was no wrongdoing found on the part of the council."

Sheila Lock, interim executive director of children's services at Norfolk County Council, said: "The victims in this case have shown tremendous courage in speaking out.

"The needs of the children, who were central to the prosecution case, have always been at the fore of our minds and have been the main focus of all of the agencies involved.

"Our priority continues to be the children in this case who, despite the ordeal they have been through, are now doing well and are safe from harm."

Deanna Neilson, head of safeguarding at Action for Children, said: "This appalling case reveals the premeditated and organised approach some people take to abusing children.

"We cannot lose sight of the needs of the children who suffered at their hands, even though the abuse has stopped.

"Children must be supported, and in some cases receive therapy, to ensure they are armed with the confidence and knowledge they need to recover from this trauma."

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