Man found guilty of 40 counts of historic sexual abuse against 15 victims
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A man who abused children for around 50 years has been found guilty of 40 counts of historic sex offences following two trials at Croydon Crown Court, the second of which concluded today (30 March).
Stephen Henry Walker, 68, formerly of Chipstead Lane, Lower Kingswood, Tadworth, was found guilty of 40 charges of sexual assaults relating to 15 victims, both boys and girls, following the conclusion of the second trial.
He was found guilty of 33 counts of sexual assault following the first trial which started on 4 January and lasted over seven weeks. The jury came back with a unanimous verdict after deliberating for just three hours.
The jury also returned a unanimous guilty verdict today on a further seven counts of sexual assault following the second trial which started on 8 March.
Walker will be sentenced on 24 May.
An investigation into Walker’s offending was launched after one of the victims came forward in March 2018.
As the enquiries progressed, the scale of Walker’s offending, and his strong sexual interest in children, particularly boys (although two of the victims were girls), soon became apparent. The offences included sexual assaults, gross indecency with children, inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency, as well as offences of attempted buggery and buggery of some of the children. The offences took place between the late 1960s and 2007.
Walker, who worked as a salesman and was also a police officer with the Metropolitan Police for a brief period, was also a coach for a number of children’s football teams, where he met some of the victims, while others were children he knew through family friends.
Although the majority of the offences were committed in Surrey, Walker also abused children in France and Malta and other locations outside of the UK jurisdiction.
Once the full extent of Walker’s abuse started to come to light, he fled to Malta where he lived under an alias.
He returned to the UK in October 2019 and was subsequently arrested on suspicion of child sex offences. Two days later, he was charged and remanded into custody due to the serious risk he posed to children, as well as being a flight risk having previously fled the country.
A team from Surrey Police’s Complex Abuse Unit then worked relentlessly to locate other potential victims and witnesses in order to obtain as much as evidence as possible. This resulted in a large number of victims being identified and led to further charges being laid against Walker while he was on remand.
During the investigation, the team also had to provide support to a large numbers of victims and witnesses, made all the more challenging due to the pandemic that also resulted in the delay of the trials, which also impacted on the victims.
Detective Inspector Paddy Mayers from the Complex Abuse Unit, said: “Walker was a vile sexual predator who used his position as a football coach, trusted member of the community and friend, to gain access to children and then seriously abuse them for his own gratification. The scale of his offending, which went unchallenged for years, cannot be underestimated.
“I would like to pay tribute to all the victims and witnesses involved in this case who were brave enough to come forward and give evidence, which meant re-living the ordeal they had endured as a result of the abuse Walker inflicted upon them. I would also like to thank them for their continued patience and support that resulted in the trial being delayed due to covid. I hope that the fact that he has been found guilty will give them some sense of justice after all these years of having to live with what he did to them.”
DI Mayers continued: “I would also like to thank all those involved in the investigation for their hard work and dedication under extremely trying circumstances, with not only a huge number of victims and witnesses, but also the substantial delays to the trial as a result of the pandemic.
“I hope that Walker’s conviction sends a clear message that we will always do everything we can to ensure allegations of sexual abuse are investigated thoroughly and that we will leave no stone unturned to get to the truth.”