SIX alleged paedophiles – one of them from Woking – linked to a notorious church organist and choirmaster, have gone on trial accused of sexually abusing four young boys who were groomed with alcohol and pornography.
Croydon Crown Court were told that the families of the boys were unaware for decades that the youngsters, aged from six to 14 at the time, had been preyed upon until, as adults, they made the allegations.
Among the defendants is 55-year-old Brookwood resident Robert Lawty. Also on trial are Phillip Tuffill, 55, of Merstham; Gerald Heather, 65, of Swindon; Timothy Fuller, 53, of Stoke-on-Trent; Ian Coulthart, 62, of Brighton; and Mark Jales, 51, of Lower Godney, in Wells.
Prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC told the jury: “This case concerns serious allegations of sexual abuse by these adult men on teenage and young boys in the Seventies and Eighties.”
The boys attended St Bartholomew’s Primary School, Sydenham, and sang in the school’s church choir, which was run by now convicted paedophile Tony Brockhurst, a funeral director who committed suicide five years ago at the age of 80.
Tuffill, who shared a house with Fuller in Gowland Place, Beckenham, was an employee of the same firm of undertakers as Brockhurst – H Copeland & Sons – and Jales was one of their drivers. Tuffill, Heather and Coulthart were all members of the choir. It was alleged that one former choirboy was abused by all of the defendants after initially being groomed by Brockhurst when he was 11.
“He was a lonely little boy looking for warmth and attention and was groomed – including being given alcohol – and abused for three years,” said Miss Cottage.
“Tuffill began to abuse him a year after he joined the choir,” she added, alleging that he had sex with the boy after inviting him to his home, where he was given alcohol and treated to a Chinese meal. “They were men trusted by the parents; they were connected to the church and the choir, and there was thought to be no question about their integrity.
“They learned how to choose their victims and groom them so they would not say no.”
The court heard that Heather picked up and hugged the same boy – who claims to have felt that the defendant was aroused – during the choir’s camping trip to Wales.
The jury were told that he took the youngster bowling before eventually taking him to the bedroom of his home, then in Streatham, and having sex with him. In 1987 Fuller was convicted of gross indecency with a boy, and in 1985 of indecently assaulting brothers aged 11 and 12.
“He is a man sexually attracted to children,” said Miss Cottage. “He has a history of abusing boys and [he] sexually assaulted the first complainant in this case as well.”
The jury were told that Tuffill had asked Fuller: “Why don’t you try him out?” and soon afterwards the boy was plied with alcohol by the defendant, who then had sex with him.
The same boy was alleged to have been introduced to Lawty, a friend of Tuffill’s, at a party.
“He was plied with alcohol – red wine – and Lawty also drank,” said Miss Cottage, who claimed Lawty had sex with the youngster, and told him: “Once you’re in the ring, we’ve got you.”
The court heard that Coulthart also had sex with the boy, who complained that it hurt. The alleged victim recalled one occasion in which the defendant and Brockhurst both had their way with him at a location near Tunbridge Wells.
“He knew what was going to happen, but did not complain because he was used to it by this time – each man took it in turns with the boy on the carpet in front of the fire,” said Miss Cottage. She said that the boy was also taken
by Jales to his flat, opposite the funeral directors, where he had sex with him and stayed the night.
The second victim, another chorister, was groomed by Tuffill, who showed him pornography from Amsterdam and abused him in his own home when the boy was just 11, the court heard.
The jury was told that the boy remembered Heather as the driver of a minibus when the choristers were taken swimming or bowling, and as someone who would treat them to a Chinese meal.
“He remembers Heather as profoundly religious,” said the prosecutor, adding that the defendant had put his hand under the boy’s duvet and abused him in his own bed.
Miss Cottage said that churchgoer Jales – described by the boy as a ‘hanger-on’ – had laid out pornography on the bed before undressing the youngster and abusing him.
The court was told that the boy had described the abuse as ‘furtive and squalid’.
His younger brother was also said to have fallen into the clutches of Tuffill at the age of six. The complainant recalls being abused on both days of a trip to Cheddar Gorge, when they stayed at a bed and breakfast with Tuffill.
A fourth complainant came forward and reported that he too had been abused by Tuffill.
Tuffill has pleaded not guilty to two sample counts of buggery in relation to the first boy; three counts of indecent assault in relation to the second boy; six counts of indecent assault in relation to the third boy, and two counts of indecent assault in relation to the fourth boy.
Heather denies one count of buggery in relation to the first boy and two counts of indecent assault in relation to the second boy.
Fuller, Lawty, Coulthart and Jales deny two counts of buggery in relation to the first boy, and Jales denies an additional charge of indecently assaulting the second boy.
All the counts span from January 14, 1977 to October 27, 1986, and the hearing continues.