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Bar worker "sexually abused two stepchildren"

Bar worker "sexually abused two stepchildren"

A 32-year-old bar worker, who has not been prosecuted, sexually abused his two stepchildren for a number of years, a family court judge in the UK has concluded.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson said he was satisfied to a "very high degree of probability" that the youngsters - a girl who is now 17 and her brother who is now 16 - had been sexually abused and routinely subjected to violence by their stepfather.

The judge, who sits in the Family Division of the High Court, said the youngsters had been "reduced to silence" after the man threatened them "about the consequences of speaking out".

But he said the Crown Prosecution Service had decided that no charges would be brought against the man unless "further and compelling" evidence came to light.

He has published a ruling after being asked to make "findings of fact" at a private family court hearing in Preston, Lancashire, by social workers with responsibility for making welfare decisions.

No-one has been identified in the ruling which was published on Wednesday.

But Mr Justice Jackson said the local authority involved was Wigan Council.

The girl had complained when she was 15, said the judge.

She told police and social services staff that she had been "subject to years of gross sexual and physical abuse" by her stepfather.

Police and a social worker had treated her allegation as "credible" but "child protection procedures" had not been invoked - and she had been "promptly banished" from her home by her mother.

Mr Justice Jackson said a "kindly neighbour" had looked after the girl for a year.

The girl's brother had subsequently told how he had been the victim of the "same kind" of sexual and physical abuse.

He said his stepfather had also made him "engage in extreme sexual activity" with his sister.

Social workers had then intervened, said the judge.

The judge said the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had decided that the man was "not to be prosecuted for anything".

That decision had been reviewed by an independent barrister who had agreed that a prosecution should not be launched.

The CPS had therefore decided to bring no charges unless more evidence emerged.

Mr Justice Jackson said in the light of that CPS decision he had decided to make his ruling public.

The judge said a copy of his ruling would be made available to police, the CPS and senior social services managers at Wigan Council.

He said the mother of the two teenagers had a total of five children by two fathers.

The 16-year-old boy and the three youngest children - aged 11, six and two - had now been placed into care.

Mr Justice Jackson said he had made a number of "findings of fact".

"(The stepfather) sexually abused (the girl and her brother) for a period of years," said the judge.

"The abuse occurred in the home and at (the stepfather's) workplaces."

He added: "The children were forced to take part in these activities and were reduced to silence by (the stepfather's) threats about the consequences of speaking out.

"(The stepfather) routinely subjected the two children to physical violence that went beyond, and often well beyond, reasonable chastisement. This included hitting, kicking, punching, slapping, biting, pushing and even hanging them over the banisters."

He said the two teenagers had been "impressive witnesses".

"The manner in which they gave their accounts was compelling," he said.

"There was no hint of malice."

He added: "There is a core of consistency in the accounts given by the children."

And he said there was "no plausible motive" for them to have made false allegations.

Mr Justice Jackson said the stepfather had "every opportunity" to carry out abuse - partly because the teenagers' mother had completely failed to protect them.

"(The stepfather) was in every way a thoroughly unimpressive witness," said the judge.

"He was clearly determined to defend himself by repeatedly saying that he had no idea why the children should have done this. Had he actually felt this, he would have shown bafflement at what had happened and a desperate curiosity to know what had gone wrong. There was not a hint of any of that in his evidence, which largely consisted of stonewalling denials."

The judge said the teenagers' mother had been guilty of a "grave failure" to protect them.