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Seven years for former children's worker

By Brian Horne, the Scotsman, 28/04/2004

A FORMER house parent at a children's home was jailed for seven and a half years yesterday for sexually abusing young girls he was supposed to be looking after.

A judge turned down a plea for leniency for Alexander Wilson, 61, who is suffering from a wasting disease which has cost him his right leg.

Wilson became the fourth man to be convicted of molesting youngsters at the Quarriers Village, Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire.

After he was jailed at the High Court in Edinburgh, former victims demanded a public inquiry, claiming that the charity which ran the home ignored or covered up complaints against staff.

Wilson's brother-in-law, John Porteous, 70, became known as the "Beast of the Bell-tower" because he lured boys into the village's tower to abuse them.

Porteous is serving an eight-year sentence imposed in November 2002.

Earlier this month, appeal judges upheld the conviction of Samuel McBrearty, 73, who was jailed for 12 years for rape and other sexual offences there.

Wilson, of Quarriers Village, denied the charges against him. But after a trial a jury found him guilty of 15 charges of indecency and indecent assault, going back to 1967.

The trial heard how he would brush against children and touch them indecently. One girl was seriously assaulted after Wilson made her lie on a bed.

In another incident a youngster was hurt when she was pushed from a moving car.

Wilson's victims also included two young workers at the village and he continued to abuse some of the girls even after they had left the home.

Wilson, a plumber, had been a house parent at one of the village's 30 cottages, along with his wife who died in 1995.

Yesterday Judge David Burns QC told him he had breached the trust placed in him.

"The six children who were inmates were among what must be the most vulnerable of people and they were entitled to expect that you not only protected them but cared for them as a father."

Afterwards, victims' spokesman David Whelan - himself a victim of Porteous, claimed there had been a cover-up.

Staff had been allowed to go on working, even after complaints were made, he said, and there had been attempts to discredit witnesses.

"I have met victims in the past who have contemplated suicide," he said.

A spokeswoman for Quarriers said the charity's "sympathies had always been with the victims", who had been offered the services of an after-care worker, recruited after the abuse came to light. "The charity is a totally different organisation to what it was," she said.

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