Ex-Great Ormond Street Hospital porter admits decades of child abuse

12 March 2021, 16:19 | Updated: 12 March 2021, 17:35

Previously unissued court artist sketch of former hospital porter Paul Farrell.
Previously unissued court artist sketch of former hospital porter Paul Farrell. Picture: PA

By Harriet Whitehead

A former Great Ormond Street Hospital porter who admitted abusing boys over decades is facing life in prison.

Paul Farrell worked at the central London children's hospital between 1994 and 2020, but the court heard Farrell did not specifically target children at GOSH.

He was arrested in January 2020 after victims came forward and spoke to the police.

In February, the 55-year-old admitted a total of 69 offences against eight victims over more than three decades.

On Friday a judge at Wood Green Crown Court lifted restrictions which had prevented Farrell's image being published.

The judge also lifted restrictions which had prevented details of where some of the offending is said to have occurred within the hospital being revealed.

He is due to be sentenced across two days in May.

Wood Green Crown Court, London.
Wood Green Crown Court, London. Picture: PA

David Osborne, acting for Farrell, said he accepted his client, who was not present for Friday's case management hearing, will receive either a life sentence or an extended sentence.

Prosecutor Paul Douglass said many of the counts were "multi-incident" so they are looking at several hundred discrete acts of sexual abuse over a period of 35 years.

The youngest child Farrell abused was believed to be five years old in the 1980s.

Farrell has previously pleaded guilty to a string of charges relating to six other complainants, none of whom can be named for legal reasons, who are now aged between eight and 43.

The offences, carried out between 1985 and 2020, include attempted rape, sexual assault of a child under 13 and making indecent photographs of children.

Great Ormond Street Hospital in central London.
Great Ormond Street Hospital in central London. Picture: PA

The court has heard Farrell did not target children at the hospital but at least two alleged victims claimed they were sexually abused in areas he had access to, namely a linen room.

He said: "Offences against two of the victims happened in Great Ormond Street, in the linen room, which is where the defendant was based for a large period of his employment there.

"He had a key for it and he locked the door and abused two boys in the linen room."

A spokeswoman for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) said they were "deeply sorry that he was able to abuse his position and use our hospital to commit some of his offences".

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Jane Ndeti, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Paul Farrell carried out an appalling campaign of sexual abuse against eight young children over a period of 35 years."

She dubbed him a "a prolific sex attacker who presented himself as a loving family man with a stable job in London's biggest children's hospital".

Ndeti added: "Sexual offences against children are abhorrent crimes. These guilty pleas mean that Farrell's victims will now be spared the ordeal of giving evidence in court.

"The CPS is committed to securing justice for victims of sexual crimes and will continue to work with the Metropolitan Police Service to prosecute these cases robustly."

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The GOSH spokeswoman said their thoughts were with all the victims of "this horrendous abuse" and that Farrell had "admitted to a catalogue of truly awful crimes".

She added: "His actions are in direct contrast to everything we stand for as a children's hospital.

"We regularly review our safeguarding processes to ensure they are in line with national guidance and strive for best practice.

"We will continue to work with the police to understand more about his crimes and consider whether there is anything more we can do to prevent cases like this.

"We know that the crimes he committed and his association with the hospital may cause alarm and distress among our patients, their families and our wider hospital community. We would like to reiterate what has been said in court; that Paul Farrell did not target children at GOSH.

"We urge anyone who has concerns about this case to call the helpline that we have set up with the NSPCC on 0800 101 996."