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'Witch-hunt' under attack - Supporters of sex criminal hit back

By Tristan Stewart-Robertson, Greenock Telegraph, 18/03/2005

SUPPORTERS of convicted sex criminal John Porteous claim it's only a matter of time before he's proved innocent.

Friends and family of the former Quarriers house father slammed the "witch hunt" of the 72-year-old who is currently being considered for parole from HM Prison Peterhead.

They are hoping the massive support for his early release will be enough to tip the scales in his favour in the coming weeks.

Porteous's wife Helen Porteous would not confirm when or what the nature of an appeal would be, but insisted her husband will be found innocent of the "lies" spread about him.

She told the Telegraph: "Almost 100 per cent of people are behind him. Fewer than one handful are objecting to his parole and only one person has really objected, in comparison to the people who support it. I would like to thank people for their total support for John. We are strong in our faith that God will see this thing through, and I hope and pray he will be left to live his life.

"His name will be cleared."

She added: "It's hard to say why him. The witch-hunt started for people at Quarrier's. He was a popular man, popular with lots of children, did a lot of work with children.

"I want the public to realise he is not what he has beenmade out to be. He would never have been kept on as an employee of Quarrier's if he had been known as the Beast of the Bell Tower.

"I cannot understand why mass murderers have had less publicity than John has had. He was convicted, yes, but wrongly. He is an innocent man."

Mrs Porteous added her husband has accepted the regime of prison life and helps as a listener to other people's problems. But his health has also suffered from being in Peterhead.

Fellow house parent Helen Dunbar said: "The whole thing has been blown out of proportion. I don't believe he committed these crimes. There was no actual proof it happened. The trial was a travesty.

"Over the years the children we brought up have done well and taken their place in society. But they did come with baggage. I'm not saying nothing happened in Quarrier's but it was also one of the first places to do away with the strap.

"I believe in some cases they convinced themselves that things had happened to them in Quarrier's. How can you prove something either way that happened all those years ago?"

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