North East Wales

Op Pallial: Peter Steen not guilty of all home abuse charges

Peter Steen Image copyright Andrew Price
Image caption Peter Steen was cleared of 11 charges

A former bodybuilder accused of assault and child cruelty as part of a north Wales historical abuse inquiry has been cleared of all charges.

Peter Steen, 75, of Wrexham, had worked at homes belonging to the former Bryn Alyn Community.

He was found not guilty of four assault claims and four cruelty charges on Monday at Mold Crown Court.

On Tuesday, the judge formally dismissed three other charges, after the jury failed to reach verdicts.

The charges all related to a period between 1978 and 1982.

No retrial

The prosecution was brought following investigations under the National Crime Agency inquiry (NCA), Operation Pallial.

Judge Niclas Parry formally discharged the jury and the Crown Prosecution Service said there would be no retrial following consultation with a senior crown prosecutor.

Judge Parry said: "In all circumstances that makes perfect sense and is fair."

He formally entered not guilty verdicts on the three outstanding charges.

Speaking on behalf of Mr Steen following the end of the trial, his solicitor Chris Saltrese criticised the decision to prosecute his client, and the Operation Pallial investigation.

'Persecution must stop'

"I am delighted for Mr Steen and his family that the jury have reached the correct verdicts and my client walks away from court an innocent man," he said.

"A grave miscarriage of justice was avoided in Mr Steen's case only by the even-handedness of the judge, the good sense of the jury and the great skill and determination of defence counsel.

"Over the past 20 years care workers all over the United Kingdom, but in north Wales in particular, have been demonised by those who do not know the first thing about looking after challenging young people in care.

"It is now time for this persecution to stop."

An NCA spokesman said it accepted the jury's decision but refuted Mr Saltrese's comments.

"This was a thorough and ethical investigation, which was independently reviewed by the Crown Prosecution Service," he added.

"Channels are available if Mr Steen wishes to make any formal complaint."

Operation Pallial was set-up in November 2012 at the request of North Wales Police and the UK Home Secretary to examine fresh allegations of historical abuse at care homes in the region, and also to review past police investigations.

A year ago, former hotelier and the owner of Bryn Alyn Community homes, John Allen was jailed for life sexually assaulting youngsters in a campaign of abuse spanning decades.

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