Four members of a Coventry family have been convicted of child abuse following an eight week trial at Birmingham Crown Court after two others and a close friend pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.
The offences range from neglect to sexual assault and rape of children aged between two and 15, which happened over a period of more than 30 years.
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Rachel Gregory, from the force’s Public Protection Unit, said: “This is one of the worst cases of systematic and horrifying child sexual abuse that I have ever seen and I am pleased that the jury have found the defendants guilty.
“The investigation was complex and a lot of time and care has been spent with the survivors in helping them to find the courage to talk about what happened to them and to ensure we could present the best possible evidence to the court, but also to make sure that their welfare was the primary consideration.”
The first person reported her six-year ordeal to police in 1989 at the hands of Antony Potts, but the case was never brought to trial. That original investigation was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission two years ago who deemed the failure of the case resulting in charges to be ‘poor policing’.
In May 2015, three more individuals, all under the age of 14, disclosed that they had been abused by Antony Potts and others to a third party, who reported the allegations to police, but in July of that year it was deemed there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against the perpetrators.
Following exploration of facts within the Family Court and the testimony of a fifth person, the case was re-opened in January 2016 and the full extent of the abuse began to unfold resulting in three further cases being identified.
After months of police investigation, supported by the likes of Coventry Children’s Services, the Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) and the independent intermediaries appointed to support the child survivors, the defendants were brought to trial.
And yesterday (Wednesday 23 May) the defendants were convicted as follows:
Anthony Potts (main picture left), aged 49 of Milverton Road – 13 counts of rape, three counts of sexual assault, nine counts of inciting a child to perform a sexual act and cruelty - all against children
Nathan Potts (main picture right), aged 26 from Burnaby Road – Two counts of rape of a child, four counts of sexual assault, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and sex with an adult relative
Keith Potts, aged 67 from Burnaby Road –Two counts of cruelty to a child
Julie Potts, aged 60 from Burnaby Road - Two counts of cruelty to a child
Three further defendants (pictured below) pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to the following:
Joanne Hoye, aged 42 of no fixed address – neglect
Elaine Potts, aged 50 of Milverton Road –neglect
Joshua Potts, aged 26 from Burnaby Road – multiple counts of rape and sexual assault against children
A date is yet to be set for sentencing.
Two 17-year-old boys also on trial were found not guilty.
A 52-year-old woman on trial for aiding and abetting sexual offences resulted in a hung jury. This will be referred back to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision on whether she will be re-tried.
Detective Chief Inspector Jo Floyd, the senior investigating officer, added: “All the children have been safeguarded and are receiving on-going support to help them come to terms with their abuse.
“I would urge anyone who has suffered any type of sexual abuse either currently or historically to get in touch with us. It is never too late for us to investigate this type of crime and we are determined to bring perpetrators to justice.
“Our officers are highly trained specialists in this field who work with a number of agencies and can offer support through the criminal process.”
A Serious Case Review to scrutinise the safeguarding procedures for the children involved and what lessons can be learned is underway by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).