A businessman from Needham Market created a ‘sexualised atmosphere alongside a culture of fear’ as he abused 20 children who lived in his care homes, a court has heard.
John Allen, 73, of Foxglove Avenue, is said to have committed the historical offences against 19 boys and one girl, aged between seven and 15, at various homes in and around the Wrexham area in North Wales between 1969 and 1990.
Allen founded a company named Bryn Alyn Community in 1968 and became managing director as he created a portfolio of 11 residential care homes for children.
Most of the alleged abuse is said to have taken place at three homes - BrynAlyn, Pentre Saeson and Bryn Terion.
Opening the case at Mold Crown Court, prosecutor Eleanor Laws QC said Allen employed staff to look after the children but he involved himself in some of the work duties including at night and was ‘a regular and formidable presence’.
Miss Laws said: “It is clear that these boys were often troubled and highly vulnerable.
“Those charged with their care had no doubt a challenging task but they had a great deal of responsibility and trust placed in their hands.
“None more so than this defendant.”
Allen was not qualified in any way to be in charge of children who needed professional care and in fact was trained as a hotelier, said the prosecutor.
When interviewed by police about the allegations, she said that Allen described the children as being ‘delinquent and out of control’.
She said boys at the homes described Allen as being abusive and at times violent and would often be under the influence of drink.
She added: “They said the staff appeared to be either fearful of him or were colluding with him.
“He created what has been described as a sexualised atmosphere within the homes, alongside a culture of fear.
“He was seemingly, without being called to account, able to sexually abuse these boys on a regular basis.”
She said some of the victims were picked out and groomed by Allen who would give expensive gifts to some.
“Others described being pestered, threatened and subjected to violence by John Allen,” she said.
Most of the victims felt they had no choice but to put up with Allen’s attentions as they became ‘hardened to the abuse’, she added.
Some did try to disclose their ordeals to the authorities at the time but were either ignored or disbelieved, the court heard.
Girls started to come to the homes that Allen ran from 1980, the court heard.
Allen denies 40 counts of sexual abuse.
The trial, which is estimated to last up to eight weeks, continues today.