Guilty verdicts in sex ritual case
A MIDDLE-aged couple are behind bars today after being found guilty of "quasi-Satanic" sex abuse on young girls.Crimes they committed up to 30 years ago, including getting two young girls to strip naked for ritualistic sex antics, had finally caught up with them.
A MIDDLE-aged couple are behind bars today after being found guilty of "quasi-Satanic" sex abuse on young girls.
Crimes they committed up to 30 years ago, including getting two young girls to strip naked for ritualistic sex antics, had finally caught up with them.
David and Bette Stalford, of Oak Hill, Hollesley, formerly lived at Great Whelnetham and Honington.
Now aged 56 and 55, they have been remanded in custody pending their return to Ipswich Crown Court in early September for sentencing.
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There are to be probation and psychiatric reports on Bette Stalford, at the request of her barrister, Steven Dyble.
David Stalford's barrister, Martyn Levett, did not call for any reports and asked the judge to sentence immediately – but Judge Peter Thompson preferred to sentence the couple together.
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Judge Thompson told them yesterday at the end of their trial, which began on June 28, that they would receive prison sentences – and he told David Stalford that his jail sentence would be "lengthy".
At the start of the trial, the couple faced a total of 21 charges, not all of them relating to what prosecutor Simon Spence called "quasi-Satanic ritual".
Those particular allegations were made by two of the three female complaints, all three now adults. Allegations of sex abuse, not involving the Satanistic element, went back as far as 1974.
During the trial, the court heard that young girls were made to strip naked and take part in rituals involving sexual touching and oral sex.
These rituals were said to have occurred around 20 years ago, over a period of months, involving the wearing of robes over naked bodies, the robes then being removed for the sexual activity.
The police were called in last year after the victims made complaints against the couple.
The Stalfords denied six joint offences of indecent assault and six alternative offences of indecency with a child.
David Stalford also denied five offences of indecent assault and four offences of indecency with the child.
The last verdicts in the case were delivered yesterday afternoon after the jury of six men and six women had been deliberating for a total of about 16 hours over three days.
In the end, David Stalford was convicted of three charges of indecency and two of indecent assault with a child on his own and with his wife of six offences of indecency with a child.
Earlier in the trial, Judge Thompson directed not guilty verdicts in respect of three charges of indecent assault alleged against David Stalford. The remaining indecency with a child allegation will lie on file.
No precise date has been set for the sentencing other than the first week in September.