Former Leeds children's home deputy principal jailed for 'scandalous' sex abuse of boys in his care

Melvin Blake
Melvin Blake

A former deputy principal of a Leeds children's home has been jailed for 16 years for the sexual and violent abuse of boys in his care.

Melvin Blake, 71, carried out a campaign of abuse at Shadwell Children's Home which a judge described as "scandalous and beyond belief."

Len Lake

Len Lake

Blake was found guilty of serious sexual offences against four boys during the 1980s.

A jury heard Blake took advantage of his position of seniority at the home to prey on vulnerable youngsters who had been sent to the home.

Blake groomed some of the victims - the youngest aged ten - before progressing to carrying out serious sexual assaults on them.

Some of the offences would be classed as rape under present-day legislation.

Leeds Crown Court heard some of the offences featured violence. One boy had to have an operation after being abused by Blake.

Blake, of Ellar Gardens, Menston, Leeds, was found guilty of nine offences of indecent assault and four of buggery.

Sentencing Blake, judge James Spencer, QC, said: "It has become clear that on repeated occasions you have committed serious sexual offences against children in your care.

"In all of that time therefore you have had this guilty secret."

Referring to the victims, the judge said: "They were each of them vulnerable children because of their circumstances and the reason they were in your care is because they were vulnerable.

"You were in a senior management position at a home where these children were residents.

"It was their home and they should have expected to be secure and safe."

Another former member of staff, Leonard Lake, 63, was found guilty of two offences of indecent assault against one victim who was also resident at the home in the 1980s.

He was jailed for two years.

The court heard Lake, of Luttrell Crescent, Lawnswood, Leeds, served a jail sentence in 1993 for similar offences against boys in his care.

After the case, Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Jon Morgan said: "These men abused their positions of trust to sexually exploit vulnerable children to whom they were supposed to be providing care and support.

"The traumatic impact that their actions have had on the victims at such an early stage in their lives has not diminished over the years and we hope they will be able to find some comfort from seeing justice finally done.

"Although these offences occurred a number of years ago, we have still been able to get these men successfully convicted and we hope other victims of similar offences will be reassured by that.

"The police and our partner agencies have never been more acutely focused on safeguarding the most vulnerable in society and we will continue to treat any offences of this nature very seriously and do everything we can to support victims and get justice for them."

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