'Predatory' paedophiles abused boys in Wrexham in the 1980s

Image source, Geoff Abbott
Image caption,
Clockwise from left; Gary Cooke, George Phoenix, Keith Stokes, Roy Norry, Edward Huxley, David Lightfoot and Roger Griffiths

A former professional wrestler was at the heart of a "predatory" paedophile ring that abused young boys at sex parties, a court has heard.

Mold Crown Court heard victims were passed around a group of men at the Wrexham home of Gary Cooke, 64, in the 1970s and 80s.

Mr Cooke and six co-defendants, are on trial and deny a range of sex offences against boys aged 10 to 15.

The court heard boys were plied with drink and drugs before being assaulted.

Prosecutor Eleanor Laws QC said the case centred on the home of Mr Cooke and, apart from Keith Stokes, all the defendants had some sort of connection to him.

"This case is concerned with the activities of a predatory paedophile ring," she told the jury.

"The boys were young, vulnerable, sometimes isolated by family circumstances and manipulated by Gary Cooke and others."

The court heard the boys were groomed by being offered treats such as cinema trips and given attention, which all led to "grave sexual abuse".

One of the defendants who visited Mr Cooke's addresses was teacher and care home owner Roger Griffiths, a convicted paedophile, the court was told.

The accused

  • Gary Cooke of Leicester is charged with 11 indecent assaults, four serious sexual assaults and two counts of indecency with a child
  • Roger Griffiths, 76, of Wrexham, is charged with two counts of indecent assault
  • David Lightfoot, 72, of Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, is charged with six indecent assaults, three sexual assaults and one count of indecency with a child
  • Keith Stokes, 62, from Farndon, Chester, is charged with four indecent assaults, two serious sexual assaults and one count of indecency with a child
  • Roy Norry, 54, of Connahs Quay, Flintshire, is charged with six counts of indecent assault and two serious sexual assaults
  • George Phoenix, 63, of Wrexham, is charged with one indecent assault
  • Edward Huxley, 70, of Cookham, Berkshire, is charged with two counts of indecent assault

The jury heard Mr Griffiths owned Gatewen Hall children's home in Wrexham from 1977 to 1983 and was a teacher at Wrexham Special Education Centre, which has since closed down.

Miss Laws said that police records revealed Mr Griffiths was convicted in 1999 of indecent assault, a serious sexual assault and cruelty to a child.

The case has been bought as part of Operation Pallial, the National Crime Agency's investigation into historical child abuse.

The trial continues.

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