Twenty-one defendants convicted in biggest child sexual abuse case in West Midlands Police history

A total of twenty-one people have been convicted of ‘abhorrent and cruel’ sexual offences against seven young children in Walsall that spanned almost a decade.

In the biggest investigation of its kind in West Midland Police’s history, three trials have taken place in the last 15 months to ensure that justice was served for the victims who were younger than 12 at the time of their abuse.

Reporting restrictions were in place until the verdict of the third trial which saw the conviction of three defendants, they will be sentenced on 12 May. One more defendant was found not guilty. 

The first trial in January last year saw a verdict reached in May for nine defendants. And the second trial ran from September to January this year convicting a further nine defendants.

(L-R) James Baker (life with a minimum of 18 years), David Baker (21 years) and Mark Smith (19 years).

The offending came to light in 2017 and Operation Satchel began. A team of officers worked with Social Services firstly to safeguard the children and then carefully uncover what had happened to them. 

Officers conducted more than 70 suspect interviews in their quest to bring the offenders to justice resulting in multiple charges against each defendant and sentences of up to life in prison. Head of the investigation, Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Drover said:

“This has been a challenging and complex investigation, and the biggest of its kind I have known for the force. But at the heart of it has been seven children who suffered the most abhorrent and cruel abuse, not just physically but psychologically, leaving them in extreme trauma.

"Their welfare has been at the heart of this investigation and support for them will continue for many years to come. I commend their bravery in being able to tell us about their abuse.

“I am grateful to everyone who worked so hard to get justice for them, and the jurors who had to listen to such a catalogue of depravity to reach their verdict.

“We have improved the way we work in the Public Protection Unit over recent years putting victims at the heart of our investigations, and this case has given us valuable learning to keep improving.

(L-R) Natalie Wellington (16 years), Phillip Wellington (8 years) and Kirsty Webb (10 years).

“I hope that this conviction shows that we are determined to bring offenders to justice and anyone who has suffered or is still suffering sexual abuse, should not be afraid to tell someone, either to police, a teacher, a doctor or anyone else they feel they can trust. We have specialist officers who are trained to help and we work with many partners and charities who can offer support.”

Senior Investigating Officer Joanne Floyd has spent six years working on this case. She added: “Our hearts go out to the victims. From a personal perspective I want to stress how difficult this journey has been and how much courage these young people have shown.

"It’s a particularly sad case and no-one has been left unaffected, whether directly involved or working as a professional. It will remain with us.”

Joanne Jakymec, Chief Crown Prosecutor said: “The offenders in this case perpetrated the most appalling catalogue of sexual abuse of the utmost gravity causing the victims physical harm and extreme psychological harm.

"With the exception of one of the offenders who admitted what they had done, none of the rest have shown the slightest remorse.”

“The CPS and West Midlands Police worked very closely together for six years, painstakingly reviewing a huge amount of evidence and disclosure to ensure that the offenders were brought to justice in a series of three trials because of the sheer number of defendants. 

“We would like to thank all of the victims and the witnesses for their bravery in coming forward and giving evidence with support of the CPS and West Midlands Police.  Without their support it would not have been possible for the prosecution team to convict this large network of child abusers. 

“We call for all incidents of child sexual abuse to be reported to the police and we will prosecute where there is sufficient evidence to do so and offer support for victims of this abuse.”


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