Judge urges Little Ted's nursery monster to tell tormented parents which children she sexually assaulted
01st October 2009
Nursery paedophile Vanessa George subjected distraught parents to one last agony yesterday.
The 39-year-old classroom assistant maintained a cruel silence over the names of children she sexually assaulted.
It condemned hundreds of parents to the trauma of uncertainty over whether their little sons and daughters were among the victims of her wicked abuse as she worked at Little Ted's Nursery in Plymouth.
After George pleaded guilty yesterday, a judge implored her to do the 'decent' thing and name the children, whose faces were never shown in the images she took.
The number of George's possible victims has been narrowed down by the police from an initial 313 to girls and boys from 30 families.
But because no one knows who those are, virtually every parent with a young child at Little Ted's during the relevant period is in fear.
As parents struggled to come to terms with her betrayal, it also emerged that:
The 18-stone George may be allowed a new identity to protect her from vigilantes if she ever gets out of prison.
She and her depraved acccomplices, Colin Blanchard and Angela Allen, fantasised about abducting a child from a railway station and abusing it.
One parent likened George to Moors killer Myra Hindley, saying: 'She did everything he (Blanchard) told her to do in a similar way to Hindley and it went from there. It seems he had some sort of spell over her.'
Police investigated a fourth suspect - a woman from Liverpool. ITV News said she sent child abuse images to Blanchard, was arrested but not prosecuted.
Angry parents called for a ban on camera phones in nurseries because police believe George took her perverted images on her mobile.
George and the two strangers she befriended on Facebook met for the first time at Bristol Crown Court where they admitted a sickening catalogue of child abuse and now face life in jail.
The grotesque portfolio of assaults on toddlers captured by George on her mobile were shared between the three.
Mr Justice Royce QC declared that George 'must know' which children she assaulted, adding: 'If I were a parent I would want to know whether my child had been abused or not.'
As she sat staring at the floor in the dock, he asked her lawyer: 'Would it not be decent for her to indicate who she's abused and who she hasn't?'
Last night one mother told the Daily Mail: 'Part of me just wants to know if my little girl was one of the victims. The other part keeps telling me I'm better off not knowing. It's the uncertainly that's tearing us apart.'
It took 25 minutes yesterday to put the charges to George and codefendants Colin Blanchard, 38, from Rochdale, and Angela Allen, 39, from Nottingham.
The trio became 'Facebook friends' before setting up a three-way communication network through which they exchanged thousands of explicit messages.
They used mobile phones to film and send images of what a senior police officer described as 'child abuse in its most horrific and devilish form'.
An accidental discovery by a businessman triggered the investigation that would uncover their warped world.
Blanchard's IT business partner stumbled across images of child abuse on his colleague's computer at their firm in Trafford, Manchester, in June.
He immediately contacted police to report the find, while Blanchard was on a professional trip to Dubai.
Blanchard was arrested upon returning to Manchester Airport on June 6.
When she was arrested, George tried to convince police that Blanchard had encouraged her to abuse the children in her care.
But the judge said: 'She's an adult. This is not a child. This is a married woman who can make up her own mind whether she can engage in this sort of activity or not.'
Last night her husband Andrew, 41, who police believe had nothing to do with the sex abuse, said he was trying to rebuild his life and wants a divorce.
Nicolas Gerasimidis, representing George, said arrangements had been made for her to see a psychiatrist.
Psychiatric reports will also be compiled on Blanchard, who spent five years on the sex offenders register over child porn, and Allen, who has a series of convictions for prostitution.
George, Blanchard and Allen will be sentenced on November 13.
Facebook strangers bound by depravity
Day after day, they waved goodbye to their children and blew kisses at the nursery door.
They usually stayed for a few moments to watch them settle in, making sure they were happy before leaving them confidently in Vanessa George's care.
All the mothers knew the 39-year-old classroom assistant. She had seen a generation of local children through nursery school and socialised in the evenings with some of their parents.
So nothing about her raised any doubt that the youngsters were in safe hands. But one day last June, everything changed.
They had been sending their little sons and daughters into the arms of a monster.
In a grotesque betrayal of trust, George had been using her position to commit acts of sexual abuse on children in her charge, film them and then send the grossly indecent images via mobile telephone to two like-minded strangers she had befriended on the internet.
In a three-way exchange, she swapped pictures and sex talk with Colin Blanchard, an IT consultant from Rochdale, and later with Angela Allen, a 'truly evil' woman from Nottingham, neither of whom she had met.
For more than six months, they operated a paedophile triangle founded on nothing more complex than mobiles, Facebook, and the 'live chat' MSN messaging service.
One of the emails even hinted at a plan to abduct a child from a busy railway station for their own sexual gratification.
But an elementary oversight led to their downfall after a workmate stumbled across disturbing photographs on Blanchard's computer and reported them to police.
Among the hundreds of pornographic pictures, a single image held the critical clue.
It showed George wearing a Tshirt bearing part of a distinctive emblem, barely visible on the front. To their horror, officers established it was the teddy-bear logo of a nursery school - Little Ted's, in Plymouth, where George worked.
Yesterday weeping parents with children at the nursery admitted they were wracked with guilt over whether they should have picked up on any warning signs.
Yet incredibly, there were no warning signs.
In public, George appeared friendly, helpful and professional. 'Bubbly' was the word most people used to describe her.
She was married with two daughters, lived just up the road from the school, and used to go drinking with some of the local young mothers.
And why should any of them have been suspicious? Routine vetting before she was appointed at Little Ted's revealed no criminal record.
Many local parents already knew her in her former role as a reception class assistant at nearby Laira Green Primary, where she shepherded scores of four and five-year-olds through their first taste of 'big school' before she switched to the nursery in September 2006.
Some regarded her as 'a second mother'. One described her as 'an angel'.
So how did this apparently likeable mother of two become capable of inflicting unspeakable acts of abuse upon the children in her care?
It is a question that George herself cannot answer - and, according to police, remains the enduring mystery behind a series of despicable crimes for which she has expressed no public remorse.
What is certain is that the catalyst for her descent into depravity lay 300 miles away in Rochdale, near Manchester.
Here Blanchard, a debt-ridden computer specialist, could be found at one of his many screens in the 'den' at his cul-de-sac 'executive home' on the outskirts of town.
The twice-married, Liverpool-born 38-year-old put his computers out of bounds for his wife Anne and their young daughter, claiming they held vital work-related information.
What they actually contained were some of the grossest images on the child pornography scale, featuring rape, incest, animals and 'extremely serious' sexual abuse of children.
Some of the children were barely a year old. Blanchard even videoed himself abusing his dog.
His depravity might have remained private had it not been for two factors. The first was his urge to gratify his perversions by interacting with someone else.
The second was the now common technology of a mobile phone that takes pictures, plus easy access to a host of social networking sites.
Blanchard found the perfect vehicle in Facebook. And through it, he found both Angela Allen and Vanessa George.
Allen, 39, had a daughter from a failed relationship, and lived with her in a grim suburb of Nottingham.
Her squalid flat in a pebbledash house seemed to be a magnet for young men and teenage boys. She lived on benefits and had a criminal record for theft and prostitution.
Her Facebook page - accompanied by a picture of a hand pushing down into a pair of red knickers - left little doubt she was obsessed with sex.
Alongside photographs that showed her scantily dressed, she boasted about thinking of sex '95 per cent of the time'.
Just the kind of woman Blanchard was looking for. They became ' Facebook Friends' and began to send each other increasingly explicit text messages, emails and pictures.
Blanchard was already known to the authorities. He had been given a police caution in 2002 for possessing 'low grade' pornographic images of teenage children, and placed on the sex offenders register for five years.
Had anyone taken a look at his computers, they would have found his interest in child porn was unbridled.
Instead of curbing his deviancy, he made a connection with a paedophile's 'dream contact' - a sexually malleable woman in charge of a class of young children.
In a leafy street in Efford, a mainly working class suburb of Plymouth, George was looking for excitement.
She appeared to have been growing apart from her husband Andrew, whom she married in 1993.
He knew nothing of her despicable crimes and is now divorcing her. As George approached her 40th birthday, struggling with her already hefty figure, she turned to the internet for sexual encounters.
As 'Vee George' on her Facebook and Myspace sites, she listed herself as 'single' - and, with deep irony, as a member of an anti-child abuse group.
She had an interest in the occult and the paranormal, and was a member of 'Haunted Devon' a respectable ghost-hunting group.
George, 'devastated' as a 15-year-old when her 37-year-old mother died of breast cancer, regularly attended seances in an attempt to get in touch with her.
Sylvia Marks, a musician and singer, frequently left the young Vanessa with friends while she performed at pubs with her husband Roger Marks, a shipwright and part-time keyboard player.
Family members speculated she could have been abused herself by babysitters.
Whatever might have lurked in her past, police believe she was now hooked on the idea of sexual contact with children.
Quite how she and Blanchard found each other on the internet remains buried in the chronology of thousands of communications.
They talked about their sexual preferences and engaged in 'live' chat to describe performing sexual acts. Blanchard claimed he had been abused as a child.
In time they felt safe enough to discuss their paedophile fantasies.
Soon, however, fantasy turned to sick reality. Instead of simply harvesting images from the internet, they made films and photographs of the disgusting acts they inflicted on innocent children.
The spur for the change appears to have been Angela Allen, the third member of their internet 'club'. Allen, described as ' cunning, sinister, devious and evil' by police sources, had no taboos.
Ang Bank, as she styled herself on the web, had 'met' Blanchard on Facebook nine months before she and George were introduced.
When she was confident George was locked into their deviant correspondence, she dramatically lowered the threshold of depravity.
She issued an open invitation to strangers to come into her house and rape her toddler daughter (although police found no evidenceto suggest this was anything-other than a sick fantasy).
Both women appeared to be vying for Blanchard's attentions, sending nude photographs of themselves and competing to produce the most 'gratifying' scenarios.
Around Christmas last year, Allen is believed to have arranged a face-to-face meeting with Blanchard. It raises the prospect they were about to capitalise on the unique position of their new friend 'Vee'.
For this was precisely the time George started to send photographs of children at Little Ted's from the phone seized by police.
Between December 2008 and the end of May 2009, George recorded her abuse of variously aged children while working at the nursery.
Dates from the photos have enabled police to narrow the list of possible victims from an initial 313 children to boys and girls from 30 families.
But detectives say there is only a 'low to zero' possibility of identifying any of them because their faces were not shown.
Nor is there any certainty that George didn't take other photographs before she began to supply them to Blanchard and Allen.
George became so trusted that no one worried when she was left alone with children, often volunteering to change nappies or take children to the toilet.
In 2007, an Ofsted inspection at Little Ted's concluded that children were being satisfactorily protected and were cared for 'in a mainly safe and secure environment'.
It commented on the ' vigilant supervision'.
But according to one mother, there were too few adults supervising too many children and the result was often 'noise and chaos'.
She added: 'It wasn't unusual to see kids running around half naked, probably after weeing in their pants, or taking their tops off when it got too hot.
'They would probably never notice if Vanessa George slipped away with one of the children for a few minutes.'
Another mother recalled how George would sometimes greet her at the gates with her son on one arm and a bag containing his soiled pants in the other.
'She would just say there had ''been a little accident'' and that she'd had to change him in the toilet,' the mother said.
'It makes me shudder now even to think of them being together like that.'
Even some children who were never photographed by George have not escaped the effects of her crimes.
One mother of three said: 'My daughter asked me why the police had taken Vanessa away. I told her she had been very naughty and tried to explain things to her. She wasn't a direct victim but she has been affected.
'Her innocence has been taken away overnight. She now thinks it's naughty to be naked. She won't let her father dress her.
'What happened at Little Ted's will stay with these children for years to come. I don't think that woman will ever realise the effects of what she has done.'