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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Foster carers abused young boys
A gay couple have been warned they face lengthy prison sentences after being found guilty of sexually abusing young boys placed in their foster care.

Ian Wathey, 40, and his partner Craig Faunch, 32, were found guilty at Leeds Crown Court of a series of sex offences against the boys.

The couple, of Slides Road, Pontefract, were approved as foster carers in 2003, the court heard.

Judge Sally Cahill remanded them in custody while they await sentencing.

The judge asked for pre-sentence reports to be drawn up and warned Wathey and Faunch they were "facing a substantial period in custody".

Indecent photos

The men were using the boys for their own sexual gratification within months of being approved as carers by Wakefield Council, the court heard.

They were found guilty of the charges following a two-week trial.

Faunch was convicted of two charges of making indecent photos of a child. The court was told that he used a camcorder to film two naked eight-year-old boys in the shower.

He was also found guilty of five counts of sexual activity with a 14-year-old boy.

Wathey was found guilty of four charges of sexual activity with a 14-year-old boy. He was also convicted of encouraging a child to watch sexual activity.

Wathey was cleared of two charges of sexual activity with a child by the jury.

'Bizarre allegations'

The court was told neither had been in trouble with the police before and were approved as foster carers after checks and training.

Defence barristers had claimed the allegations were "bizarre", "incredible" and unfounded.

The court was told the couple had taken a photo of a boy in their care while he was urinating.

Social workers decided the men had been "naive and silly" for taking the photo after hearing their explanation that they had used the picture to embarrass the boys into closing the toilet door, which they kept failing to do.

The victim whose complaint triggered the police inquiry gave evidence via a video link. Describing the abuse, he said: "It hurt. Afterwards, I said 'Pack it in now,' and then I went to bed.

"I was gutted. I didn't want anything to do with anyone else. All I could do was sit there and cry."

'Lessons learned'

Wakefield Council's Service Director for Children in Need, Kitty Ferris, said the safety of children in the council's care was its first priority.

She said: "Mr Faunch and Mr Wathey have not been permitted to care for children in their capacity as foster carers since the allegations were made, in line with council policy.

"The council has now terminated their approval as foster carers.

"Although correct procedures were carried out at every stage, the service has reviewed its internal procedures to identify what lessons should be learned.

"Checks are in place for foster placements including unannounced home visits and the council is regularly inspected by the Commission for Social Care Inspection.

"The council has offered support, where appropriate, to children who have been affected by this case."




SEE ALSO:
Couple 'abused foster children'
19 May 06 |  West Yorkshire


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