Following an investigation by West Midlands Police, an ex-social services worker who abused a vulnerable boy in a Birmingham children’s home during the 1980s has been jailed for 12 years.

Bill Cranston molested his victim, who was 11 at the time, during his night shift rounds at Harborne’s Oakhill Centre − a former reception for children seeking foster families or long-term care.

Birmingham Crown Court heard how 90-year-old Cranston groomed the youngster, and went on to subject him to regular sex assaults throughout his teens.

Other than the care home, Cranston, also abused the youngster in his own home in Bradford Road, Castle Bromwich, often whilst his wife slept in another room.

The sexual assaults also took place at a workshop he used for a picture framing business he established after leaving social services employment in Selly Oak – And also at holiday homes in Spain and Italy during the mid-80s after taking him away on summer breaks.

The brave victim, now in his late 40s, reported the offences to the police in 2015 following counselling sessions after living with the tremendous torment for more than three decades.

He provided detectives with a recording of a phone conversation from 2015 in which he quizzed Cranston over the abuse and secured a confession.

Cranston went on to admit three charges of child buggery, plus multiple counts of indecent assault, and at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday (6 Feb) was jailed for 12 years.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable Jonathan Barker from West Midlands Police’s Public Protection Unit, said: “Cranston took advantage of his position and access to vulnerable children. He regularly sneaked into the boy’s bedroom when working night shifts at the home and inappropriately touched him under the sheets.

“He created the façade of a caring father figure − someone who might potentially adopt the boy − and managed to secure regular weekend stays at his home.

“But his actions were purely selfish and with a view to grooming the boy for his own sexual gratification. He even managed to persuade the boy to go on foreign holidays where again he was forced into committing sex acts… that’s the level of control Cranston had over him.

“The victim feared that, as the offences occurred more than 30 years ago, he wouldn’t be believed and police wouldn’t be able to prosecute; he even went to the lengths of secretly recording a phone call between them in a bid to get his own evidence.

“There is no need for people to such harbour concerns: we have a successful track record of securing justice even in cases where abuse has taken place decades earlier.

“West Midlands Police also has a dedicated Historical Abuse Team featuring officers who are specially trained to secure evidence and support abuse survivors through the police and courts process.

“We believe Cranston’s employment in the 1980s would have brought him into contact with children at several care homes in Birmingham. If anyone else has suffered at his hands I’d urge them to get in touch so we can equally secure justice for them.”

To contact West Midlands Police’s Public Protection Unit call 101.

Birmingham Crown Court image by Elliot Brown


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