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Children's carer guilty of 19-year reign of abuse

By Ian Sharp, the Scotsman, 18/03/2004

A FORMER children's home carer was facing a lengthy jail sentence last night after being convicted of a catalogue of abuse against eight girls over two decades.

Alexander Wilson, 61, was found guilty at the High Court in Glasgow of 15 charges of molesting the children. He showed no emotion as the jury returned its verdict and was remanded in custody to await sentence at a later date.

Some of his victims, now adults, sat weeping as the jury returned its unanimous verdict before they walked quietly from court and hugging two policewomen who investigated the case and gave evidence for the Crown.

Wilson had worked as a house parent at the Quarriers Village, Bridge of Weir, in Renfrewshire. His brother-in-law John Porteous, 70, who worked with Wilson at the home for neglected children, is already serving eight years for sex offences carried out at the centre.

Wilson's victims were sexually molested over a 19-year period from the mid-1960s. His trial this week heard how the one-time plumber became a houseparent with his late wife Jan at one of the home's 30 cottages.

Temporary Judge David Burns, QC, placed Wilson on the Sex Offenders' Register  and called for a risk assessment as to his possible future danger to the public.

The defence advocate, Donald MacLeod, said Wilson suffered from a serious heart and lung complaint and was concerned for his life expectancy.

Wilson follows three other Quarriers house parents, including his brother-in-law, to prison, all convicted of serious sexual abuse charges:

After Wilson's conviction yesterday it was revealed that there are another three ex-Quarriers' employees, all men, being investigated over sexual abuse allegations and a former woman employee over allegations of physical abuse.

During his trial, one of Wilson's victims was asked why she didn't complain that he was sexually molesting her. She told the jury of ten men and five women: "I thought the abuse was normal because I'd got it from my previous house father."

Other victims broke down and wept in the witness box as they re-lived the abuse.

They told how he abused them during car journeys and while they sat on his knee to have their reading checked.

The prosecutor, John Martin, said some of the most distressing evidence was of the young girls sitting downstairs and having to decide among themselves whose turn it was to be abused by Wilson.

The women told how they would be "captured" by Wilson when he called on one of them to come upstairs to switch off the light.

Wilson, of Carsmeadow, Quarriers Village, denied the offences and told his defence advocate, Mr Donald MacLeod, in evidence they never happened.

Wilson had worked as a bus driver at a depot in Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, until he lost a leg as a result of heavy smoking.

During the trial, the former superintendent of Quarriers, Joseph Mortimer,72, agreed that the name of the charity had been "tarnished" in recent years.

He was asked by Mr MacLeod if he had ever heard "that terrible things" went on in the home. He replied: "Personally... No."

Mr Mortimer, who retired in 1991, said the only time he disciplined Wilson was on one occasion when he was smelling of drink.

He agreed with Mr Martin that children find it difficult to report abuse and that was the reason for Childline being set up by Esther Rantzen.

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