John Allen
John Allen must serve a minimum of 11 years in jail after been convicted of child sex offencesNorth Wales Police

A former children's care home owner has been handed a life sentence after being found guilty of abusing children for more than 20 years.

John Allen, 73, was sentenced after being found guilty of 33 historical sex offences against 18 boys and one girl at care homes across north Wales between 1986 and 1991.

Allen, who owned a group of 11 children's care homes in and around the Wrexham area known as Bryn Alyn Community, has now been told he must serve a minimum of 11 years before he can be considered for release.

During the trial, Mold Crown Court heard how Allen had created a "sexualised atmosphere within the homes, alongside a culture of fear".

Allen was found guilty of a number of offences, including indecent assault, performing an illegal sex act and conducting indecent activity with a child.

He was cleared of two charges, with a jury failing to reach a verdict on the remaining charges.

Following his conviction for his "reign of terror" across three decades, Allen was described as one of the most prolific paedophiles the UK has ever seen.

Jon Brown, from the NSPCC, said: "Instead of nurturing the vulnerable children in his care, he abused his power and subjected them to constant, horrendous sexual attacks.

"His manipulative and devious behaviour allowed him to hide behind a shroud of respectability while his helpless victims suffered intense emotional trauma."

Allen is the first person to be convicted under Operation Pallial, the investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in care homes in North Wales.

North Wales Police senior investigating officer Ian Mulcahey said: "John Allen abused vulnerable children he was entrusted to protect. He had complete power and trust over those in his charge and he completely abused that trust. He was a violent man, which he used towards children in his care.

"He tried to control and manipulate his victims and often purchased expensive gifts as a means of exerting this control. These gifts included expensive motorcycles.

"Allen may have believed that he would never be brought to account for his actions. However the jury has listened attentively and carefully to the evidence from a number of victims who provided graphic, harrowing accounts of Allen's abuse towards them and this has enabled the jury to reach their verdicts.

"In spite of the verdicts the impact on the lives of those John Allen abused may never be undone."