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“THE TEFLON paedophile.”
That was how retired NHS manager Robin Jamieson described Dennis King.
First convicted of sex offences in 1958, King racked up convictions in seven consecutive decades. He was back in court just last year, at age 83.
Yet, observed Robin, “No matter how many times he reoffended, whenever he came back before the court, the judge would give him a really lenient sentence again.”
In one case, in Peterborough in 2000, a judge told King he was eligible for 10 years inside, then gave him seven months.
Child protection workers who saw the catastrophic damage inflicted on children abused by King’s 1980s ’Shoebury Sex Ring’ were infuriated by his lenient treatment.
When their questions about the handling of the Shoebury case resulted in threats and intimidation, they became convinced the authorities were hiding something.
An NSPCC officer assigned to the Shoebury case (later seconded to the police to help monitor and catch paedophiles) formed his own conclusion.
“I strongly suspected King was a police informant,” he said in April 2018, “and the more experience I’ve had since, I’m more convinced. I believe he probably had all sorts on all sorts of people.”
Eight months later, he has been vindicated. A newly-uncovered document, authored by a Children’s Society worker in 1993, recorded a police officer admitting that King was a ’registered informant’.
The officer claimed King’s work for the police ’had no bearing’ on his lenient treatment.
When the YA showed the child protection workers that comment, they just laughed.
* * *
Born in Billericay in April 1935, the sixth of eight children, King spent his childhood in Southend. Lawyers would later claim that he was sexually abused from age seven and, as a result, spent his adulthood battling the compulsion to re-enact his own abuse with other children.
As a young man, King openly claimed to be gay – which was illegal at the time – but the true objects of his sexual desires were children of both genders.
He was convicted of his first sexual offence in 1958, then again in 1959. By 1964, when he was jailed for a year for attempting to procure indecency, he’d already served a six-month sentence for attempting to engage in sexual activity with children as young as nine.
In 1966, King abused two boys, aged 13 and 14, in a public toilet on Southend seafront, then took them to his flat in Ailsa Drive, Westcliff, where one spent the night in King’s bed. He was jailed for seven years for attempted buggery.
More prosecutions followed in 1972, 1978 and 1982. But by the late 1980s, abusing children was no longer just a personal pursuit for King. He’d turned it into a business.
He had moved to Cunningham Close, Shoebury, on one of the area’s most deprived estates. His neighbours included prostitutes and heroin addicts. Amidst this sea of deprivation, King was an island of wealth. Despite living in a council flat and claiming to work in a café, he drove sports cars and kitted his home out with cutting edge technology. He was known locally as a fence for stolen goods, but he had another income: selling sex with children.
In May 1989, he and Brian Tanner, of Beedell Avenue, Westcliff, were arrested on suspicion of running a paedophile ring. By June 1989, there were 14 known victims. By January 1990, those 14 had named a further 28. The list eventually totalled more than 60 children. King and Tanner were charged with conspiracy and buggery, carrying a maximum term of life in prison.
Victims began disclosing information about the ring to charities tasked with helping them. They described being transported around Essex and London to be abused by other men, who paid King for the privilege. They also named a police officer who would visit both King’s flat and an underage brothel and drugs den in the next block.
When the charities began asking questions about why none of this was being investigated, a Tory county councillor told them there were ’high up people involved’. A teenager who mounted an amateur investigation was ’warned off by two CID’ and left with a black eye. Then a police officer drunkenly blabbed that he’d been instructed to ’do a hatchet job’ on the charity workers.
King and Tanner’s trial was due to begin in April 1990. Seven boys were lined up to testify. The offences against those boys were ’specimen charges’, representing identical abuse of ’dozens’ more victims. After decades of offending by King, the stage was finally set to convict him of buggery and remove him from circulation for good.
But on the day of the trial, prosecutors offered King and Tanner a plea deal. The buggery charges were knocked down to ’attempted’ and the conspiracy charge was allowed to lie on file.
At sentencing, King and Tanner’s lawyers claimed the victims – as young as 10 – had been the instigators, which the judge accepted. King’s lawyer told the court his client planned to chemically castrate himself to prevent future offending.
Tanner got three years. King got four. For abusing dozens of boys over a years-long period, he’d received three years less than he got in 1966 for abusing two boys on one occasion.
The charity workers were aghast.
Prosecutors claimed they’d done the deal to spare the boys from having to testify. But the boys hadn’t been consulted and then, to add insult to injury, had been smeared during the sentencing.
By 1993, King had apparently reconsidered his chemical castration and was instead back up to his old tricks, this time pimping out underage girls. Two girls made detailed allegations and he was placed under surveillance. It was during this case that police officer Bob Fugl told a charity worker that a senior officer was ’blocking’ the investigation, and admitted King was a ’registered informant’.
Amidst that investigation, King upped sticks and, according to documents from 1993, moved in with a former county councillor in Lincolnshire called Ivor Howes. But that arrangement was short-lived as Howes died in November 1993.
King settled in Peterborough where, in 1996, he was convicted of indecently assaulting a boy and taking indecent images of a child. His sentence? Probation.
Within a year, he’d abused another boy and taken indecent images of another child. He was jailed for five years, but got it reduced on appeal.
In 1999, he sexually assaulted a 19-year-old man. He got seven months.
In 2008, he was convicted of further offences and let off with a court order.
In 2012, police raided King’s home and found the walls decorated with framed child pornography he’d taken on his own camera. When he was convicted a year later of seven indecent images offences, the court heard he had now been convicted more than 30 times for sex crimes. He got 12 months.
Months after his release, he propositioned a 14-year-old boy. He got 13 months.
Then, months after his release from that sentence, he was convicted of breaching a court order. His punishment was another court order.
In 2016, a YA investigation into concerns over the handling of the Shoebury Sex Ring case forced Essex Police to review it. Five new complainants came forward. King was arrested. But in late 2017, police marked King for no further action without referring the evidence to the CPS. The force also claimed that after reviewing the 1990 case, it was satisfied there was no evidence of corruption.
In 2018, King was due to stand trial in Peterborough for repeatedly paying a teenage boy for sex, but CPS bosses decided in July that it was not in the public interest to proceed, as King was ’physically at death’s door’.
In November, he died of AIDS, sparking fears for the health of the many victims he had sexually abused during his depraved life.
*Essex Police continues to investigate the Shoebury Sex Ring after a new complainant completed months of interviews in November 2018. But in light of the YA’s revelations over the last two months, whistleblowers and campaigners are now questioning whether Essex should be handling the case at all…
January 8th 2019