FOUR members of a Coventry family have been convicted of ‘horrifying’ child abuse stretching back 30 years.
An investigating detective called it “one of the worst cases of systematic sexual abuse” she had ever seen.
The four were sentenced yesterday (Wednesday, May 23) following an eight week trial at Birmingham Crown Court after two others and a close friend pleaded guilty to similar and related crimes at an earlier hearing.
The offences range from neglect to sexual assault and rape of children aged between two and 15.
Anthony Potts, aged 49 of Milverton Road was found guilty of 13 counts of rape, three counts of sexual assault, nine counts of inciting a child to perform a sexual act and cruelty – all against children.
Nathan Potts, aged 26, from Burnaby Road, was also found guilty of two counts of rape of a child, four counts of sexual assault, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and sex with an adult relative.
Keith and Julie Potts, aged 67 and 60, from Burnaby Road, were both found guilty of two counts of cruelty to a child.
At an earlier hearing, Joshua Potts, aged 26, also from Burnaby Road, was convicted of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault against children.
Joanne Hoye, aged 42 of no fixed address and Elaine Potts, aged 50 of Milverton Road were both found guilt of neglect.
A date is yet to be set for sentencing.
Investigating officer detective sergeant Rachel Gregory, from the force’s Public Protection Unit, said: “This is one of the worst cases of systematic and horrifying child sexual abuse that I have ever seen and I am pleased that the jury have found the defendants guilty.
“The investigation was complex and a lot of time and care has been spent with the survivors in helping them to find the courage to talk about what happened to them and to ensure we could present the best possible evidence to the court, but also to make sure that their welfare was the primary consideration.”
The first person reported her six-year ordeal to police in 1989 at the hands of Antony Potts, but the case was never brought to trial.
That original investigation was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission two years ago which deemed the failure of the case resulting in charges to be ‘poor policing’.
In May 2015, three more individuals, all under the age of 14, disclosed that they had been abused by Antony Potts and others to a third party, who reported the allegations to police, but in July of that year it was deemed there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against the perpetrators.
Following exploration of facts within the Family Court and the testimony of a fifth person, the case was re-opened in January 2016 and the full extent of the abuse began to unfold resulting in three further cases being identified.
After months of careful investigation and support from partner organisations including Coventry Children’s Services, the Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) and the independent intermediaries appointed to support the child survivors, the defendants were brought to trial.
Two 17-year-old boys also on trial were found not guilty.
A 52-year-old woman on trial for aiding and abetting sexual offences resulted in a hung jury.
This will be referred back to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision on whether she will be re-tried.
A Serious Case Review to scrutinise the historical safeguarding procedures for the children involved and what lessons can be learned is underway and will be conducted by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).
Detective chief inspector Jo Floyd, the senior investigating officer, added: “All the children have been safeguarded and are receiving on-going support to help them come to terms with their abuse.
“I would urge anyone who has suffered any type of sexual abuse either currently or historically to get in touch with us.
“It is never too late for us to investigate this type of crime and we are determined to bring perpetrators to justice.
“Our officers are highly trained specialists in this field who work with a number of agencies and can offer support through the criminal process.”