Aug 2007

‘Mr Respectable’ paedophile who filmed sex attacks on girls as young as three

He was the image of respectability – a bank manager, Scout treasurer and stalwart of the parent teacher association. 

Anthony Barron was also a predatory paedophile who carried out almost 90 sex attacks on girls as young as three, using them as “toys” and storing film of his acts in an extensive video library.

He bribed his victims not to report him with sweets and ice lollies.

But he was eventually unmasked after a child of five told her mother what had happened.

Judge Julian Hall told him that the offences were “as serious as I think I have ever come across”.

He added: “I see no reason not to jail you for life. I can’t imagine anything worse than a parent knowing that their child has not only been abused but also knowing that film exists of that abuse.”

Barron, 54, was found guilty of the rape and attempted rape of a 12-year-old girl following a two-day trial at Oxford Crown Court.

He had already admitted 87 offences against another ten girls between 1995 and 2006.

They included assaults on two sisters on the same day, one after the other.

Police discovered footage of Barron joking on camera that there was not enough room for both of them with him at the same time.

On another occasion he abused a child while her mother was elsewhere in his house in the Oxfordshire market town of Wantage.

Barron, a divorced father of three, lured girls to his home with sweets, ice lollies and games and then bribed them not to talk about the abuse by handing out further treats.

He was given a minimum term of nine years before he can apply for parole and will spend the rest of his life on the sex offender register.

Last night the detective and senior lawyer in the case described it as the worst example of child abuse they had come across in 30-year careers.

Barron’s ex-wife Christine, who left him in the mid-1990s, said he had “betrayed us all”.

And in a highly unusual move, Judge Hall told jurors in the case – who had to watch some of the depraved video footage – that he would excuse them from jury service for the next ten years because of what they had gone through.

He told them: “Once is enough for a lifetime.”

Barron admitted:

• 27 counts of indecent assault; 
• 37 counts of making indecent photographs of children; 
• 11 counts of sexual assault; five counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 years to engage in sexual activity; 
• two counts of indecency with a child; 
• three of attempted rape; 
• one of another serious sexual assault and one of possessing indecent photographs.

The court heard that after quitting banking, he set up his own computer repair business.

He would befriend the parents through his role at the school, Scout group and youth clubs, persuading them to allow their children to stay at his house.

He also abused some of the girls – aged between three and 12 – during visits to their homes.

Barron even went as far as to strike up a sexual relationship with one woman before assaulting her daughter just days later.

The computer expert would often set up video and still cameras, shifting angles and the children’s positions to produce a better image of the abuse.

On one video, Barron is seen abusing a young girl while her mother is elsewhere in the same house.

His reign of terror came to an end when he was arrested in September last year after the five-year-old told her mother that Barron had exposed himself to her.

When police raided his 1950s semi-detached home they found the “tools” of his abuse – a stash of toys suitable for children from the age of two which he used to encourage them to spend time at his home.

Officers also found hundreds of videos and 52 computers – each of which was examined by IT specialists for images of abuse.

When the children who were being videoed became upset or objected, Barron would say in a soft, paternal voice, “We don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do”, and stop the session before repeating his attempts on another occasion.

It was Barron’s sickening photo and video library that allowed police to catalogue his prolific offending.

Detective Constable Bob Owen, of Thames Valley Police, said he had to identify the victims from the photographs and then approach the families who were unaware of the abuse.

So Barron could be prosecuted for the crimes against their children, parents were forced to view the videos to confirm the girls’ identity.

DC Owen said: “Anthony Barron is a conning, devious and extremely dangerous predator and a most evil man.

“In my 28 years’ service as a police officer I have never dealt with a case of child abuse on this scale.

“Barron planned his crimes and was devious to ensure he was not reported by his victims.”

In a letter to the court Barron blamed his divorce, the death of a relative and the difficulties of being a lone parent for triggering his offending.

The judge told him: “For many years you led a life of respectability but from 1997 onwards your outward appearance remained the same but you could perhaps be described as a predatory, plausible paedophile, totally betraying the trust of people who trusted you with their children.”

He said Barron treated his victims “as if they were some sort of toy”.

Deciding on the sentence, Judge Hall added: “I have no idea when, if ever, you will be safe to release into the community, because I have no idea why this all started.”

He said the 229 days Barron spent on remand would be deducted from the minimum nine-year tariff he must serve before becoming eligible to apply for parole.

The judge has previously been accused of being too lenient on paedophiles.

In June he described a girl of ten, raped twice by a window cleaner, as “provocative” because she wore frilly underwear.

And in an earlier case, the judge told another paedophile to buy his child victim a bicycle to cheer her up.

Days later he was switched from trying a paedophile case to cover an adult sexual abuse case, rather than the underage offence.

Outside the court, Jenny Jonckheer, of the Thames Valley Crown Prosecution Service, the senior instructing lawyer in the case, said: “This is undoubtedly the worst case of child abuse that I have seen in my 30 years’ experience of prosecuting criminal cases.

“Anthony Barron subjected his victims to the most brutal and horrific abuse imaginable, sometimes whilst they were asleep.

“These crimes were especially sickening because of the way that he made video recordings of the sexual offending, which showed his apparent enjoyment of the abuse.”

One of Barron’s neighbours said she felt “sickened and horrified” that she lived so close to a twisted child abuser.

Kerry Ballard, 36, who has two young boys, said the news of Barron’s crimes had utterly shocked her.

“I’m just so thankful that my boys had nothing to do with him.”