South East Wales

Gwent Police officer's 'apology' for sex abuse probe

Jon Styler
Image caption Jon Styler hanged himself in 2007

A senior police officer privately apologised for Gwent Police failing to link information about an ex-head teacher accused of sex abuse.

Jon Styler, who killed himself in 2007, denied abusing boys at schools in Newport and Worcestershire from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Gwent Police did not link complaints given to them in 2005 with an allegation made in 2007.

The force said Styler had deprived his victims of justice.

BBC Wales has learned one alleged victim received an apology late last year from a detective chief superintendent over the way the force failed to link the two reports.

Jeff Parry says he was abused by Mr Styler at the Malpas Church in Wales School in Newport in the 1970s.

He says he received the apology at Gwent Police headquarters in late November 2015, shortly after new allegations were made on BBC Wales' Week In Week Out programme.

Image copyright Jaggery/Geograph

He told BBC Wales that during the apology officers made it clear that they were convinced the link would have been made if the investigation had continued.

"They did apologise for what had happened, they did make it clear that at the time of the investigation, if the investigation had carried on, they were sure that the two files, or the two complaints would have been linked together" he said.

"And then they would have re-contacted the original complainant to see if they were now willing to come forward and make a fresh statement."

Gwent Police said it was aware of the meeting between Mr Parry and the officer but was "unable to confirm exactly what was discussed".

It is understood the officer who made the apology has since retired and was not involved in the original Jon Styler investigation.

It is also understood the complainant in 2005 decided not to proceed with making a formal allegation.

Solicitors representing the victims of Mr Styler, from Newport, have previously claimed he may be one of the most prolific paedophiles in recent Welsh history and could have abused more than 100 boys.

The Children's Commissioner for Wales Sally Holland has said the way the case was handled by police should be looked at again.

Gwent Police has conducted an internal review into the original Jon Styler investigation.

Mr Styler denied all the allegations.

'No guilt'

In November 2015, Gwent's Deputy Chief Constable Craig Guildford publicly said that he "didn't feel any guilt" about had what had happened in 2005.

He said the force had tried to persuade the person with the information then to make a formal complaint, adding, "I don't think we let them down".

Mr Guildford said that because the 2005 complainant was not prepared to go forward with their case, there could have been no prosecution.

Mr Guildford said in a statement on Tuesday: "When John Styler made the decision to take his own life, he deprived his victims of the justice they deserve.

"However, in making the brave decision to come forward, we have been able to refer those victims to organisations that can offer support and assistance. If anyone else is affected by this, or finds themselves in a similar situation, I urge you contact us, so that we can help you too."

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