A 53-YEAR-OLD former bus driver from Sandwell is amongst 12 men to have been found guilty of historical sexual offences against two young men who were both sexually exploited in their teens.

10 of the men convicted were found to be involved in a teenage sex ring since 2009.

Ian Prestleton, of High Haden Road, was convicted of having sexual activity with a child, after details of the sex ring were uncovered during a review of historic investigations by West Midlands Police Public Protection officers in 2013.

Over the last 12 weeks, a jury at Warwick Crown Court heard how two separate victims had been left traumatised by the abuse.

One of the victims was aged 15 at the time of the offences in 2002 and 2003, the second was between 14 and 15 at the time of the offences in 2009 and 2010. Both were extremely vulnerable, say police.

Between 2005 and 2010, the 14-year-old boy had been in local authority care. On 19 December 2009, aged 14, he failed to return from a family visit and was reported as a missing person for a short period of time.

Police enquiries established that he had been seen begging for money at New Street train station before being seen to leave with an older man, identified as 39-year-old unemployed Stephen Kelly, of Elm Road, Bournville, Birmingham.

The boy was found by police 10 days later at Stephen Kelly’s home. He told officers that during the 10 days he had been missing Stephen Kelly had sexually abused him and sold him to other men for sexual acts.

At this time none of the other men were identified and, after seeking advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, there was not enough evidence to bring charges against Kelly.

Months later in 2010, the boy - now aged 15 - ran away from his care home several times and, due to concerns that he was being sexually exploited, he was made subject of two secure orders by Children’s Services.

While in secure accommodation, the boy was given counselling support from Barnardos where he revealed details of the sexual abuse, in particular against unemployed Tahir Hussain, aged 34 of St Josephs Road, Ward End, Birmingham, whom he had met in February 2010 in Kent Street, Birmingham.

The boy further disclosed Hussain had trafficked him to other men, and they, along with Hussain, had subjected him to further sexual abuse. At this time the other men were not identified.

In August 2010 Hussain had been served with a harbouring notice and, in August 2011, he was arrested by police in relation to the disclosure made to Barnardos.

Hussain denied the allegations and subsequently no further police action was taken against him.

On August 18, 2010, following another 10 day missing episode, the same boy had been found in a hotel room in Birmingham with Michael Godbold − a 58-year-old student photographer of Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush.

A third party made allegations that Godbold had previously sexually assaulted the boy and taken indecent images of him. Goldbold was arrested in November 2010 in relation to these allegations, which he fully denied, and no further action was taken by the police.

In 2013 a review of the historic investigations was conducted by West Midlands Police Public Protection officers.

Police approached the victim - then aged 18 - who agreed to cooperate with the police review team.

He provided further details of the abuse he had suffered and details which lead to the review team being able to identify 12 men, 10 of whom were found to be involved in the teenage sex ring.

In addition to Stephen Kelly, who was rearrested for the 2009 offences, officers were able to identify some of the men who the boy had been sold to and sexually abused by.

These were Kevin Tudor, 55 from Springthorpe Road, Erdington, Birmingham,  and caretaker Peter Joynes, 58, of Canberra Way, Highgate, Birmingham. 

The sexual exploitation involving Hussain resulted in his rearrest and the following men identified as being responsible for sexually abusing the boy; Retired farm manager and former Warwickshire Police special constable Ronald Potter, 78 of Tippers Lane, Fillongley, Coventry; former bus driver Ian Prestleton; driver Alan Priest, 63 of Haywood Bridge, Halesowen; unemployed Ashley Sherrington, 24, of Dawlish Drive, Bentley, Stoke-on-Trent.

Michael Godbold was rearrested for the August 2010 sexual abuse allegations, and, following the recovery of indecent images of the boy, unemployed Robert Bailey, 27, of Watt Road, Erdington, Birmingham was also arrested.

The review team then identified a further victim of Ronald Potter. The boy at the time of the sexual abuse in 2002 and 2003 was 15-years-old, vulnerable and homeless.

Ronald Potter sexually abused the boy and later introduced him to other men. This led to Potter being charged with two counts of indecent assault against this victim. Both victims knew Ronald Potter by his pseudonym John Potter.

Two men – Darren Clegg and Peter Lowe – were found not guilty.

Assistant Chief Constable Carl Foulkes said: "The two men − who were boys at the time these offences were committed − have shown incredibly bravery throughout the investigation and court process. They both gave evidence against their abusers and this cannot have been an easy thing to do.

"It has been a long and complex process to bring these men to trial when initially it was believed that there wasn’t enough evidence. Thanks to an extensive review which has taken four years to bring to trial, we have now seen justice for those subjected to horrific offences. I hope this gives them some closure. 

"There are elements of learning from this investigation and its subsequent review that we have to reflect on as an organisation in respect of why the original inquiry didn’t bring successful charges."

Tahir Hussain was found guilty of one count of sexual activity with a child and one count of penetrative sexual activity with a child.

Stephen Kelly was found guilty of two counts of arranging or facilitating child prostitution, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

Kevan Tudor was convicted for arranging or facilitating child prostitution, two counts of penetrative sexual activity with a child.

Peter Joynes was found guilty of sexual activity with a child and arranging or facilitating child prostitution.

Ronald Potter was convicted of two counts of indecent assault.

Ian Prestleton was found guilty of having sexual activity with a child.

Allan Priest was convicted of two counts of rape and penetrative sexual activity with a child.

Ashley Sherrington was found guilty of rape.

Michael Godbold was found guilty of arranging or facilitating child prostitution, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, penetrative sexual activity with a child, making indecent images of a child and four counts of possessing a controlled drug.

Robert Bailey was convicted of arranging or facilitating child prostitution, engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, penetrative sexual activity with a child and making indecent images of a child.

Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils along with West Midlands Police are working together to raise the profile of CSE across the region.

The partnership’s See Me Hear Me campaign aims to increase people’s understanding of CSE and how to spot the warning signs in a child or young person’s behaviour.

A one-stop shop for information, help and advice for young people, parents and carers, professionals and schools, can be found at seeme-hearme.org.uk.