- William Goad was jailed for life after four decades of abusing boys
- He died last year aged 68, but victims say he was not the only abuser
- Official report concluded that investigators could have done more
- Now police launch a fresh search for other peadophiles in the case
Police have launched a new investigation into Britain’s worst ever paedophile after an internal report revealed that officers failed to hunt down his sick accomplices.
Millionaire William Goad was caged for life in 2004 for preying on boys as young as eight over the course of 35 years. He was said to have as many as 3,500 victims.
Goad died last year in prison aged 68, but some of his victims have long suspected there were others involved in his child abuse ring who escaped the net.
Their claims have now been backed by a police probe which said detectives focused so narrowly on Goad that they sidelined claims he had help.
The report by Devon and Cornwall Police’s Professional Standards Department (PSD) said hundreds of possible new victims have come forward after his conviction but none had even been interviewed properly.
The force has responded by promising a full-scale re-investigation that sources say could be bigger than Operation Yewtree – the Jimmy Savile sex abuse investigation.
Goad, who ran a chain of indoor markets and discount stores in Plymouth, Devon, used his wealth and influence to lure generations of boys into his clutches.
He once boasted of abusing 142 children in a single year – and often ten boys at a time stayed in his home.
He gave them cash and gifts, employed them at his shops, bought homes overlooking school playgrounds and threatened to hurt their mothers if they talked.
Victims have always claimed he had links with other paedophiles and sometimes abused boys with them. A police document from 1996 warned that Goad’s abuse ring contained ‘prominent members of society’ – but none were ever identified.
Devon and Cornwall Police launched their internal probe after a complaint was lodged last November by Paul Wyatt, who was abused by Goad in his teens and has campaigned for years to see the case reopened.
The PSD referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission but insisted the force had correctly followed its policy at the time and did not recommend specific disciplinary action.
However, investigators agreed there was a possibility other victims ‘might have also been abused by other offenders and thus the lack of any police action has potentially meant these offenders have retained their liberty and continued their offending behaviour’.
Mr Wyatt, who said victims who came forward were simply given a crime number and referred to support services, welcomed the new inquiry.
He said: ‘Of the 17 witnesses who originally were part of the trial which led to Goad’s eventual conviction, some had named other paedophiles connected to Goad who had also abused them. This information eventually led to the convictions of other paedophiles in the last few years.
‘What if these other hundreds of victims, that came forward but were never allowed to make statements, were abused by others as well?
‘They were just given crime reference numbers and a telephone helpline to ring. It means their offenders have been active in Plymouth for all this time without ever being brought to book.’
Mr Wyatt was backed by former detective constable Shirley Thompson, who helped secure Goad’s life sentence in 2004.
She said: ‘The interviews and statements showed there were more victims and more offenders out there. A senior officer said to my boss “put a lid on it and concentrate on Goad”.’
Devon and Cornwall Police said it had assembled a team of specially-trained officers for a ‘complex and sensitive investigation’.
Detective Sergeant Mark Metherell said: ‘The issues raised by Mr Wyatt were investigated by the Professional Standards Department. Their investigation concluded that police had acted lawfully and proportionately and that no misconduct issues had been identified.
‘A voluntary referral, however, was made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in respect to some of the key policy decisions that had been made during the police investigations into the criminal activities of Mr Goad.
‘Following consultation with the IPCC Commissioner, Rachel Cerfontyne, Deputy Chief Constable David Zinzan has asked for the Devon and Cornwall Criminal Case Review Team to draw up a terms of reference for a new police investigation which will seek to address the conclusions highlighted within the Professional Standards Department investigation.’