A couple who adopted two young girls and let two paedophiles subject them to horrific sexual abuse were yesterday convicted of child neglect.
The adoptive father, 55 – who had himself been sexually abusing one of the girls from the age of seven – was found guilty on 13 counts of indecent assault and indecency with a child as well as four counts of child neglect.
He was found not guilty of two child-sex charges and one count of neglect by a judge at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, but was remanded in custody for reports.
His wife, 54, was released on bail after being found guilty of five counts of child neglect, but was warned there was a ‘strong possibility’ she would be jailed.
The couple – who cannot be named, to preserve the children’s anonymity – allowed convicted child rapist Colin Molloy and his friend Samuel Nelson to abuse the girls in the family home.
Last year Molloy, 46, was jailed indefinitely after admitting nine counts of rape against the younger girl, while Nelson, 43, was jailed for nine years after admitting 11 offences including indecent assault.
Last night an MP called for an independent inquiry into how the system designed to protect the girls failed, while it emerged that the older girl may sue the authority which approved the placement.
Coming from broken, dysfunctional families, adoption was supposed to provide these two young girls with the secure and loving home their birth parents were unable to offer.
Instead it plunged them into a dark and terrifying world of exploitation, violence and rape.
Their adoptive parents – a bus driver and his shop assistant wife – managed to fool Manchester social services into believing they were a decent working-class couple who wanted nothing more than to nurture the children placed in their care.
In fact they were cruel, cynical degenerates.
One of the girls was sexually assaulted by her adoptive father from the age of seven – sometimes in the presence of his wife – and both were later handed on to two other predatory paedophiles who subjected them to years of rape and assault.
The girls became helpless captives. There was no effective monitoring by social services and when they complained to their adoptive mother, she told them to ‘keep quiet’, even asking the elder girl not to make a fuss as one of the abusers ‘helped us with money and a car’.
The couple, who are not being named in order to protect the girls’ identities, married in 1990. Apparently unable to conceive, they applied to adopt.
Checks at their scruffy ex-council house in Sale, Greater Manchester, and personal vetting failed to uncover the husband’s long association with known parpaedophile
Colin Molloy and his associate Samuel Nelson.
They were allowed to adopt the first girl, daughter of a chronic alcoholic mother, in 1999, when she was five. Within two years, the husband was subjecting her to regular sexual abuse, hitting her and leaving her ‘bruised and sore’ if she resisted.
She was too terrified to tell anyone outside the house, and visiting social workers failed to detect anything amiss. Incredibly, they were allowed to adopt a second girl – also then five – in 2005.
After the second adoption, Molloy and Nelson were regularly entrusted to ‘look after’ the girls when they had finished school and their adoptive parents
were still at work.
Molloy, who persuaded the girls to call him ‘Uncle Colin’, had a history of travelling around the country and befriending parents who wanted help looking after their children.
In reality the gardener-cum-handyman was a paedophile who was jailed for seven years for child rape in 1989.
On one occasion, when the older girl was 13, she told her adoptive mother that Nelson was sexually abusing her, but was told: ‘Just leave it, we’ll have to see what happens.’
Molloy, meanwhile, molested the younger girl, then aged just eight, in her sister’s bedroom with their adoptive mother still in the house.
On occasion the adoptive parents would make lame protests at the level of abuse, but their efforts to tackle it were pitiful and never involved calling the police or other authorities.
When they did challenge Nelson about abusing the girls, he left for a while, only to return and give both children presents of pairs of knickers.
The adoptive father told him to apologise, and the baby-sitting arrangement resumed, along with the routine of almost daily abuse.
The trial was also told that the mother also turned a blind eye to the abuse her husband perpetrated against the older girl over a six-year period, even when he molested her in the same room.
The alleged abuse finally came to light last year when one of the girls told a schoolteacher that an ‘uncle’ had been touching her. Police were already hunting for Molloy over two other victims, and the girls were placed in foster care.
The older girl, now aged 16, is said to feel ’emotionally frozen’ while the girl she still regards as her sister, now ten, frequently bursts into tears.
A relative of the birth mother of the older sister – who received her GCSE results this week – told the Daily Mail yesterday: ‘It seems clear to us that adequate checks cannot have been done.’
She said the girl’s birth mother, who had a drink problem, had ‘fought like a tigress to keep her’ but ‘lost the will to live’ after her daughter was taken into care and died on Mother’s Day, 2005, aged just 43.
‘Social services should have helped keep this mother and daughter together as a family unit,’ the relative said. ‘Instead, they wrenched the child from her mother. They then handed her through a forced adoption, endorsed by the secret family courts, to a paedophile ring.
‘There is a dangerous culture among social workers. They will take a child from birth parents after making unproven accusations against them and hand that child to adoptive parents who are always deemed to be perfect.’
Another relative of the oldest girl said of the adoptive parents: ‘They are monsters who were trusted by both the girls and they broke that trust. The girls were very brave.
‘If they had not spoken out about what was happening to them, no one would be any the wiser.’
Manchester City Council – which authorised the original adoptions – said it had commissioned an independent internal assessment which found it had followed proper procedures, but refused to publish it.
Now Lib Dem MP John Hemming, who is campaigning for changes in Britain’s adoption system, has written to Children’s Minister Tim Loughton calling for an independent serious case review.
What planet are they on if they think a secret report will put an end to this?’ he asked.
‘Something has gone dreadfully wrong and we need to know whether complaints about what was happening were ignored.’
Last night Manchester city council’s director of children’s services, Pauline Newman, said: ‘The vast majority of adoptive parents do a fantastic job. This case must not detract from that fact.’