Eight women among 21 members of 'abhorrent and cruel' child sex abuse ring jailed for total of 145 years

5 April 2023, 23:40 | Updated: 6 April 2023, 07:25

Tracy Baker (L) and Natalie Wellington (R).
Tracy Baker (L) and Natalie Wellington (R). Picture: West Midlands Police

By Chay Quinn

These are the evil faces behind the "biggest-ever" child sex abuse ring and were jailed for 145 years today.

Nearly two-dozen depraved criminals were convicted after a West Midlands Police abuse probe which uncovered abuse against seven kids below the age of 12 for over a decade.

The sick organisation only came to light after one of the victims visited hospital in 2017 which triggered the extensive six-year probe.

The so-called Operation Satchel led to 17 of the group being jailed with sentences ranging from 28 months to life.

Tracy Baker (L) and Natalie Wellington (R)
Tracy Baker (L) and Natalie Wellington (R). Picture: West Midlands Police
Matthew Evans (L) and Anne Marie Clare (R)
Matthew Evans (L) and Anne Marie Clare (R). Picture: West Midlands Police

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The court cases saw wide-ranging reporting restrictions imposed while they were progressing at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

But today the press can name the sick individuals after their restrictions were lifted following three consecutive trials.

Four of the bunch will find out their sentence next month.

Deputy Chief Superintendent Paul Drover, who was head of the investigation for West Midlands Police told press: "Our investigation turned into one of the biggest investigations in the West Midlands into child sexual abuse.

"Seventy interviews were conducted and we heard high numbers of disclosures made by the children involved.

"We had specialist support from the National Crime Agency detectives, specialists in disclosure and exhibits, plus all the support from colleagues at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), local authority social care, children's mental health services and health services."

He added that there were "lessons to be learned" from what had happened and that Walsall Safeguarding Children's Board is helping to investigate them.

He recounted of the victims: "They have been through a significant amount of trauma.

"It has had a significant and ongoing impact on their physical and mental wellbeing".

"To get the confidence to come forward and talk to care professionals, to police is huge".

"I am genuinely thankful, and also to the juries involved in this. The safeguarding of children is at the forefront of police, of health (workers), of school teachers, this to me is a perfect example of how we work together to bring a significant case to the stage where ... (offenders) will be found guilty of significant offences and receive up to life terms in prison.

"This is an ask from me, for those subject to sexual harm to have the confidence to come forward, talk to teachers, nurses and doctors, police officers, tell us what is going on."

Violet Griffiths (L) and James Evans (R)
Violet Griffiths (L) and James Evans (R). Picture: West Midlands Police
David Baker (L) and Violet Griffiths (R)
David Baker (L) and Violet Griffiths (R). Picture: West Midlands Police

Those convicted but not yet sentenced for the heinous crimes are as follows:

  • Matthew Evans, 32, from Howard Road, Bilston, has been found guilty of 2 child sexual abuse related offences
  • John Griffiths, 66, from Abbotts Street, Bloxwich, has been found guilty of 2 child sexual abuse related offences
  • Violet Griffiths, 66, from Abbotts Street, Bloxwich, has been found guilty of 2 child sexual abuse related offences
  • Natasha Webb, 37, is due to be sentenced at a future date.

Those convicted and sentenced as part of the abuse ring are:

  • James Evans, 38, from Eyland Grove, Walsall, was found guilty of 20 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to life imprisonment with minimum term of 18 years. Indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) imposed. Indefinite Restraining Order imposed in respect of the victims.
  • Kirsty Webb, 36, from Bloxwich Road, Walsall, was found guilty of 5 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. SHPO for 30 years. Indefinite Restraining Order imposed in respect of the victims. Notification requirement for life.
  • Mark Smith, 34, from Bloxwich Road, Walsall, was found guilty of 4 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 19 years imprisonment with an extended licence period of 6 years (total of 25 years). SHPO for 30 years. Indefinite Restraining Order imposed in respect of the victims. Notification requirement for life.
  • Pamela Howells, 58, from Saw Mill Close, Walsall, was found guilty of 3 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment. SHPO for 15 years. Indefinite Restraining Order imposed in respect of the victims. Notification requirement for life.
Lee Webb (L) and Luke Baker (R)
Lee Webb (L) and Luke Baker (R). Picture: West Midlands Police
Luke Baker (L) and Natasha Webb (R)
Luke Baker (L) and Natasha Webb (R). Picture: West Midlands Police
  • Lee Webb, 40, Whitmore Street, Palfrey, Walsall, was found guilty of 3 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. SHPO for 30 years. Indefinite Restraining Order imposed in respect of the victims. Notification requirement for life.
  • Ann Marie Clare, 43, from Saw Mill Close, Walsall, was found guilty of 4 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment with an extended licence period of 3 years (total of 11 years). SHPO for 30 years. Indefinite Restraining Order imposed in respect of the victims. Notification requirement for life.
  • Dean Webb, 35, was found not fit to plead and the jury decided that he had committed the acts alleged. He was given a supervision order for 2 years and a SHPO imposed for 40 years.
  • Stephen Webb, 65, was also found not fit to plead and the jury decided that he had committed the acts alleged. He was given an absolute discharge but must notify as a sex offender for five years
  • Tracey Baker, 41, from Park Avenue, Walsall, was found guilty of 5 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 16 years custody, SHPO and Restraining Order in relation to all of the complainants. Both orders to last until further order. Indefinite Restraining Order imposed in respect of the victims.
  • David Baker, 41, from Park Avenue Walsall, was found guilty of 7 child sexual abuse related offences and was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment (inc. extra year extended licence). Restraining Order and SHPO granted indefinitely.
  • Luke Baker, 22, Park Avenue Walsall, was found guilty of 2 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 2 years and 4 months, Restraining Order to last until further order and a SHPO for 15 years
  • David Evans, 72, from Adshed Road, Redcar, Cleveland, was found guilty of 2 child sexual abuse related offences and was sentenced to 3 years 6 months imprisonment. Restraining Order and SHPO granted indefinitely.
  • Jane Evans, 71, from Tantarra Street Walsall was found not fit to plead and the jury decided that she had committed the acts alleged and was sentenced to a two year supervision order and SHPO granted.
  • Philip Wellington, 50, from Walsingham Street, Walsall, was found guilty of 3 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 9 years custody, SHPO and Restraining Order in relation to all of the complainants. Both orders to last until further order.
Mark Smith (L) and Pamela Howells (R)
Mark Smith (L) and Pamela Howells (R). Picture: West Midlands Police
Jason Evans (L) and John Griffiths (R)
Jason Evans (L) and John Griffiths (R). Picture: West Midlands Police
David Evans (L) and Phillip Wellington (R)
David Evans (L) and Phillip Wellington (R). Picture: West Midlands Police
Phillip Wellington
Phillip Wellington. Picture: West Midlands Police
  • Natalie Wellington, 44, from Walsingham Street, Walsall, was found guilty of 4 child sexual abuse related offences and was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment (inc. extra year extended licence). Restraining Order and SHPO granted indefinitely.
  • Jason Evans, 25, from Walsingham Street, Walsall, was found guilty of 3 child sexual abuse related offences and sentenced to 2 years and 6 months, Restraining order to last until further order and a SHPO for 15 years.
  • Ryan Evans, 23, was found guilty of 1 child sexual abuse related offence and was sentenced to a community order for 3 years, restraining order to last until further order and a SHPO for 15 years.

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