Stuart Thornton, 65, of Cowling near Keighley has been convicted of sexual offences he committed against children in his care whilst he worked as a care worker at the Burnside House Children’s Home in Skipton between 1971 and 1976.

Stuart Thornton who denied all the allegations against him was found guilty of 6 counts of indecent assault on a male under the age of 14, 2 counts of gross indecency with a child, 2 counts of indecent assault and 1 count of buggery. On the direction of the Judge, Neil Davey QC he was found not guilty of 2 counts of gross indecency with a child. The offences were committed against 3 boys and 1 girl aged between 5 and 13 years old.

The trial which lasted for 2 weeks was heard at the Bradford Crown Court. Thornton has been made subject of an interim Sexual Harm Prevention Order and was ordered to sign the sexual offender register. He has been granted conditional bail and will be sentenced on the 7th July 2017.

The Court heard that Thornton, “threatened to withhold privileges or dish our punishments if the children did not do as he wanted and threated one boy with never seeing his parents again if he did not comply.”

One of the complainants who is a man now in his fifties, told the police that Thornton had pushed his head into a pillow to stop him from crying, “ He thought he was suffocating and the pain was horrific” Mr Christopher Dunn the Prosecutor said. The complainant described “systematic and regular abuse in a dormitory at the home” and stated that he was also abused when taken to Blackpool on trips. Another complainant stated that, “the boys would have to wear swimming trunks in the bath to stop Thornton touching them indecently.”

The female complainant accused Thornton of “touching her indecently and rubbing himself against her. He exposed himself to her and told her to commit a sex act on him.”

An NSPCC spokesman said after the case, “Thornton used his power and trusted position as a carer to commit appalling sex crimes against children over many years. In a home that should have been a place of comfort and safety he subjected his vulnerable victims to horrific abuse and controlled them through fear and punishment.”

Jordans Solicitors are acting for clients who suffered abuse at Burnside House Children’s Home. Where a member of staff abuses a position of trust and commits an act of assault a claim may be possible. We would advise anyone affected to report their allegations to the Police and contact us if they wish to pursue a civil claim.

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