March 2020

School paedophile Robert Starr ‘abused position of trust in most sinister and opportunistic way’

A “Sinister” paedophile who abused young vulnerable boys while he worked as a night watchman at a special school was jailed for 19 years.

Robert Starr sexually assaulted victims in his care after “grooming” them at Chepstow’s Mounton House School during the 1990s.

The 71-year-old appeared to be a kind member of staff to the residents at the educational facility where boys with behavioural and learning difficulties were sent.

Cardiff Crown Court heard how the defendant was jailed for 12 years in 1998 following the Operation Goldfinch inquiry into historical abuse at children’s homes in South Wales.

Starr was convicted of 21 sexual offences at Pwllmeyric’s Mounton House School following a trial.

At his sentencing hearing, prosecutor Mark Cotter QC said: “The defendant worked in childcare as a night watchman.

“He sexually abused nine young boys who were resident at the school.

“He had his own room near to where the young boys would sleep. He would comfort the boys who missed home.

“The defendant would draw pictures for them which they would put up near their beds.

“He worked as a caretaker and night watchman and would go around with his torch to check on them.

“He told (one victim) not to tell anyone about the abuse and that no one would believe him in any event.”

Mr Cotter told how Starr had initially been well-liked by many boys: “The defendant was described as a nice person who was a practical joker.”

The drawing of pictures and cartoons for boys and allowing them to watch videos after dinner were all part of his “grooming” process, the court was told.

Mr Cotter read out the victim impact statement from one of the victims which said: “I have spent the last 25 years of my life burying my head in the sand.

“I think my life might have turned out different had this not happened to me.”

Ignatius Hughes QC, mitigating, said his client had not committed any further offences for three decades and had already served a 12-year jail sentence.

Judge Jeremy Jenkins told Starr: “You were known as a kinder member of staff who would comfort those who were homesick.

“You lured your victims into a false sense of security and each of them was abused in the most cruel way.”

The defendant, of Ty Fry Road, Rumney, Cardiff, showed no emotion as he was sentenced and led away to the cells.

He was also told he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.