Paedophile fails in bid to overturn his conviction

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Former child welfare officer Peter Denton must service his time in prison

A worker at a Kirklees kids home who subjected a boy to an eight-year ordeal of sexual and physical abuse has failed in a bid to get his convictions overturned.

Peter Denton, 65, was principal residential child welfare officer at Combs Hill School, in Hall Lane, Thornhill, Dewsbury, when he abused the boy many years ago.

Denton, of Scotland Gate, Choppington, Northumberland, was jailed for five years at Leeds Crown Court last May.

He was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and five counts of indecent assault.

Today at London’s Appeal Court, three senior judges were told his trial was unfair and his convictions “unsafe”.

Lady Justice Rafferty, sitting with Mr Justice Spencer and Mr Justice Morris, heard how Denton punched the boy when he first arrived at the home.

He later exploited the lad’s fear of more physical violence to prey on him sexually.

Denton had previously been acquitted of accusations that he abused another resident at the home.

Jurors at his later trial were told about those allegations, although Denton had been cleared of them.

Denton’s lawyers argued today that that “bad character evidence” fatally undermined his defence and the fairness of his trial.

But Lady Justice Rafferty said the trial judge had “exercised his discretion in the interests of justice” when he allowed jurors to hear the evidence.

The jury would have seen “an incomplete picture” had they not known about the previous trial, she told the court.

The evidence was, she added, “capable of establishing a propensity to behave in the way alleged.”

“The judge’s directions were exemplary and ensured the jury attached the proper weight to the evidence and these convictions were safe.”

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