Police appeal for victims of London paedophile

Wednesday, 03 December 2014

John Cowan

John Cowan

POLICE believe a serial paeophile may have abused children in care homes across Essex and London.

The Metropolitan Police's child abuse unit has appealed for victims to come forward and report attacks by John Cowan, 72, of Littlebourne in Lewisham.

Cowan – known by the nickname 'Jock' – was jailed for eight years last week over historic child sex abuse.

He committed the offences while working at an Ealing children's home, but lived in Chelmsford at the time of the attacks. Police said he had worked in care homes around the country, including Essex, and it was 'highly likely' that there were more victims yet to report their abuse.

Jurors convicted Cowan after hearing he had 24 prior convictions for child sex abuse.

In 1994 he was jailed for 12-and-a-half years over 16 child sex abuse charges and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.

He worked as a house father at the Ealing home for two years between 1971 and 1973, while living in Essex.

His offending there came to light in January 2013, when a woman attended Shepherds Bush police station to report having been sexually assaulted when she was seven or eight years old.

She told police Cowan had abused her in the attic at the children's home.

A police probe uncovered five more victims.

Cowan abused five girls aged between five and ten, and one boy, who was six years old.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “The male victim described how on more than one occasion Cowan had taken him from his bed, saying the boy needed the toilet. Once inside the bathroom, Cowan sexually assaulted him.”

Cowan was arrested in July 2013. He was jailed last Thursday at Harrow Crown Court for ten counts of historic indecent assault and one count of gross indecency.

Investigating officer DC Cathy Hewitson, from the Met's Child Abuse Investigation Team in Northwood, said: “Cowan took advantage of his senior position at the home to abuse a number of vulnerable children, the majority of whom had already suffered heartache and trauma in their short lives and should have been in a trusted environment. I praise the courage of the victims in coming forward and reliving this very difficult period in their lives, forced to give evidence in open court by Cowan's refusal to admit his crimes.

“Cowan worked in a number of children's homes in Essex, London and Scotland from the 1970s onwards. It is highly likely there are other victims our there who perhaps have felt too scared to come forward before or thought there was little point given the passage of time. This conviction proves it is not too late to bring Cowan to justice and I would ask anyone with information to contact us in confidence.”

Anyone with information can contact the Child Abuse Investigation Team on 0208 246 1901 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Read more of this story in this week's edition.
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