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5 May 2011, 16:18 | Updated: 5 May 2011, 16:31
A "monster'' who raped and indecently assaulted a number of vulnerable teenage girls at the children's home where he worked was jailed for 20 years today.
A judge said it was "difficult to imagine a worse case'' as he heard how James Cruickshank Boyes, 56, groomed the girls while they were residents at Frant Court Children's Home in Frant, East Sussex, during the 1980s and were aged between 14 and 17.
Brighton Crown Court heard how one of the girls twice attempted suicide after she reported the abuse but no one believed her, while another is now incarcerated in a mental hospital.
The woman, who is now is her 30s, stayed in touch with Boyes after leaving the home as despite him raping her, she thought she was in love with him.
Outlining the case, prosecutor Rob Hall said many of the girls were already victims of sexual abuse when they were sent to the home, described as ``a centre for girls with troubled backgrounds''. Some had even been sent to live there by their families who did not believe them.
He said Boyes started working at the Greenwich social services-run home in June 1985 when he was aged 30.
As a key worker he was assigned girls to look after and had full access to their records, which meant he was able to see their sexual histories and whether they had been abused before.
Mr Hall said he would start by befriending the girls, and would then go on to make them "feel special'' by complimenting them and giving them cigarettes and cannabis.
After grooming them he would take them for drives in his car, and park in isolated places where he would touch them before moving on to indecently assaulting them over time.
Boyes warned the girls that no one would believe them if they told anyone what was happening and in one case when one did report it, he told her all the other girls in the home were turning against her.
The court heard she retracted the complaint but took an overdose, resulting in her being in intensive care for 24 hours.
Mr Hall said: ``It's a sad hallmark of many of the complaints in this case that so many of them were not taken seriously.''
He said a joint investigation by police and the NSPCC was eventually carried out at the home after another girl made allegations about a different member of staff.
He said there were "multiple allegations from multiple girls about multiple abuses at that time''.
Boyes is the only person to have since been brought to justice and the home has now closed.
Mr Hall said Boyes, formerly of Alex Hughes Close, Snodland, Kent, was arrested in the county in April 2002 and appeared in court for a plea hearing the following July.
After pleading not guilty to the charges, he absconded when the hearing broke for lunch and went on the run.
Mr Hall said this caused "great anxiety'' to his victims who knew they would have to give evidence in court but now did not know when this would be.
Police did not catch up with him again until more than eight years later after the case appeared on an episode of the BBC programme Crimewatch in September last year.
He pleaded guilty to some of the charges against him when he appeared in court last November and was due to stand trial on the others before entering guilty charges to them as well in March.
Boyes admitted 13 charges of indecent assault and two of rape against six girls, while he also agreed for a further charge of indecent assault against another girl to be put on his record today.
The court heard the charges, which relate to offences carried out between October 1986 and September 1990, are all specimen counts so are examples of a vast number of similar assaults that took place during the time but that the victims cannot remember exact details of.
George Hepburn-Scott, in mitigation, said that credit should be given to Boyes for having spared them having to give evidence by pleading guilty.
But he added: "Nothing I say can excuse or justify what Mr Boyes did'' and said he had "behaved like a monster''.
Judge Paul Tain said the credit for pleading guilty was reduced by the fact he had absconded.
He said: "I can't imagine a case of this type where the impact on the victims could be any greater.
"It's inconceivable that anyone could see a greater abuse of trust in the real world that you have engaged in.''
Clean-shaven and dressed in a white short-sleeved shirt, Boyes did not show any emotion as he was sentenced to 15 years for each of the two rape charges, to run concurrently, along with an added five years in total for the charges of indecent assault.
He will also be required to sign the sex offenders register for life and a sexual offence prevention order was made banning him from having any contact with people under the ages of 18.
After the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Julie Dow, of Sussex Police, said: ``The successful conviction of the defendant today can be seen as a positive result.
``This was a long and complicated investigation due to the fact the abuse took place almost 20 years ago.
``However, we hope that this sends out a strong message that Sussex Police will not tolerate child abuse no matter how long ago the offences occurred.
``If we have the evidence we will investigate and not stop until those responsible for these appalling crimes are brought to justice.
``I am very grateful for all those who helped with the investigation and for the bravery of Boyes' victims, whose contribution to the investigation played a vital role.