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by Charles Thomson, chief reporter
December 18th, 2018
POLICE investigating a Southend-based paedophile ring in 1990 were looking into a mysterious figure called ’Lennie’, historic paperwork has revealed.
The discovery comes two weeks after the Yellow Advertiser reported that Essex Police had been informed of a possible link between the ’Shoebury Sex Ring’ and Lennie Smith, a member of the ’Dirty Dozen’ paedophile gang that killed Jason Swift, Barry Lewis and Mark Tildesley.
Two men – Dennis King and Brian Tanner – were jailed in 1990 for running a ’massive’ child sex ring from Shoebury, which abused ’dozens’ of children – but no other abusers were prosecuted.
Police reopened the case in 2016 and knocked on one man’s door after being handed paperwork from 1990/91, including Social Services documents, which named him as a suspected victim.
The man gave hours of on-camera police interviews detailing a catalogue of childhood abuse. His final interview took place in mid-November 2018.
He told police how Tanner, now dead, had often threatened to take boys to a shadowy character called Lennie Smith if they were not compliant.
The witness did not know who Lennie Smith and was not told until after his police interviews had concluded, when a counsellor broke the news.
Smith lived in Southend in the late 1970s/early 1980s and worked at an amusement arcade, which he used to groom children, then prostitute them as ’rent boys’.
A letter penned in 1990 has now revealed police investigating the Shoebury ring were looking into a man known to boys as Lennie.
The letter was written by Doreen Pond, a secretary at the Children’s Society – a charity contracted by Essex Council to work with the Shoebury victims.
Doreen – who has since died – wrote the letter to after two policemen showed up at her home on September 12, 1990, asking questions about a number of people.
She used her shorthand skills to take comprehensive notes of the meeting, then sent the notes – plus a typed transcription – to one of her superiors.
She wrote: “They said that King and Tanner were only a small part of what was going on.”
The officers asked her if she had heard of ’Lennie’, but she had not.
They then questioned her about a well-known local man. That man was jailed in recent years for abusing boys in the 1970s/80s, but the charges were unconnected to the Shoebury ring.
The officers also asked Doreen about a policeman who was allegedly having sex with a female heroin addict, whose flat was used as an under-age vice den.
Doreen told them the ’affair’ was well-known on the estate and the officer was even rumoured to have appeared in pornographic photographs with the woman.
But despite the visit to Doreen’s home, no charges were brought against any other members of the ring.
*Sex crimes officer Caroline Thrower is currently reinvestigating the Shoebury ring. Anybody with information was asked to dial 101.