North East Wales

Operation Pallial: Ex-publican denies child abuse

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

A former Wrexham publican accused of being part of a paedophile ring has denied sexually abusing a teenage boy in the 1970s.

David Lightfoot, 72, of Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, told Mold Crown Court he had never heard of the main complainant in the trial until police arrested him.

The former cabaret singer and six other men are charged with abusing boys as young as 10, girls, and young adults.

The case is part of the Operation Pallial investigation into child abuse.

The court heard Mr Lightfoot, who has been married twice, came out as gay in the 1980s and ran Snowy's bar in Wrexham until 1986.

He said the venue was not a gay bar and 99% of his clientele were heterosexual.

He denied allowing children into the bar or serving underage people alcohol, and said he only knew a couple of his co-defendants because they drank in the bar. He denied ever meeting three of the others.

He also said he had never taken the complainant home and given him alcohol, adding he did not drink alcohol at home himself.

Asked by his defence barrister John Philpotts if he had ever taken one of the complainants to his home at the time in Brynteg for sex, he said "No".

The court also heard one of the defendants, Gary Cooke, now known as Grainger, from Leicester, would not be giving evidence in his own defence.

The trial has previously heard prosecution claims that Mr Grainger abused children at parties in his former home at Brymbo, which the court had been told was at the centre of the abuse ring, and at a flat above a sex shop which he ran.

His barrister Michael Ivers said evidence may be called on his behalf later in the trial.

The case continues.

The accused

  • David Lightfoot, 72, of Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, faces five charges of indecent assault on a male, one charge of indecency with a child, and two charges of serious sexual assault.
  • Gary Cooke, now known as Grainger, aged 64, of Leicester, faces 12 charges of indecent assault on a male, three charges of serious sexual assault, and two charges of indecency with a child
  • Keith Stokes, aged 62, of Chester, faces four charges of indecent assault on a male, two of serious sexual assault and one charge of indecency with a child.
  • Roy Norry, aged 55, of Connah's Quay, faces six charges of indecent assault on a male and two charges of serious sexual assault
  • George Neil Phoenix, 63, of Wrexham, faces one charge of indecent assault on a male
  • Edward Julian Huxley, aged 70, of Maidenhead, Berkshire, faces two charges of indecent assault on a male
  • Roger Owen Griffiths, 76, of New Broughton, Wrexham, faces two charges of indecent assault on a male.