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Operation Yewtree: Chris Denning jailed for 13 years over sexual abuse of 24 boys
The former Radio 1 DJ Chris Denning has been jailed for 13 years for historical sexual abuse of 24 boys – including one who was allegedly assaulted at Jimmy Savile’s house.
About a dozen of Denning’s victims sat at the back of court as the sentence was passed.
Denning, 73, one of the founding presenters on the flagship BBC station, “used the allure of the record industry and celebrity” to groom his victims, who were as young as 10, the court heard on Tuesday.
He took young boys to watch Top of the Pops recordings and introduced them to a string of stars, including the disgraced late DJ Savile.
The abuse began in 1967 – the same year he was unveiled as one of the founding DJs at Radio 1 – and continued over the next two decades.
The prolific paedophile later opened a series of computer games shops and used the “exceptionally exciting” technology to prey on boys.
Judge Alistair McCreath told London’s Southwark crown court the abuse was “inappropriate and depraved”.
He continued: “You groomed all of these boys. They were, for the most part, in their early teens although some of them were younger.
“You used your own fame, your acquaintance with others who were famous – many of them now to be described more as notorious than as famous – your familiarity with the music industry, your possession of computers and computer games and other devices to win their trust and misplaced admiration.
“You gave them alcohol and drugs. To some of them you gave money. You showed them pornographic material. You introduced them to inappropriate sexual behaviour by making it seem normal and exciting.”
He said the abuse had a “devastating effect” on the boys, who were now men in their middle age.
Denning, of Basildon in Essex, stared at his victims and their families, who had travelled from all over the country to see justice done, as he entered the dock for the sentencing.
Wearing a hearing loop, Denning gave a nod and glanced at his victims as he was handed the jail term.
Outlining the case, Neil Moore, prosecuting, said: “The defendant used the allure, first of the record industry and celebrity, and then the world of computer games, to entice boys into his company.
“He spoke to them about his career and the celebrities of the moment he knew. He offered them cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, bought them gifts and gave them money. He gave them access to pornographic material and gave them the means to do what they wanted in order to groom them. He took them to meals and took them to celebrity parties.”
Moore said Denning gradually introduced his victims to pornography before abusing them, taking pictures and videos of some of the boys.
He persuaded the parents of his victims his intentions were innocent and to let their sons stay at his home.
Moore described how Denning sexually assaulted dozens of boys over the next 20 years while at the height of his fame. Some of his victims have said they were abused up to 60 times.
Denning singled out his victims at skateparks, youth centres and discos, including the Walton Hop, a notorious disco in Surrey where older men preyed on teenage boys.
One victim told how Denning took him back to his home which was an “Aladdin’s cave” of pornography.
Moore said Denning took one boy, aged 12 to 14, to watch Top of the Pops before repeatedly abusing him at his home.
He said: “He described being given alcohol and said initially he found it exciting and mesmerising because the defendant would talk about all the famous people he knew, such as Jimmy Savile. He would also take them out for meals, concerts and took them to a studio to see filmings of Top of the Pops.”
Other boys told how they were taken to celebrity parties where they met Savile and music mogul Jonathan King, who both have since been revealed as sex offenders.
One of the victims has said he was 14 or 15 when he was abused by Denning at Savile’s home, although Savile is not said to have been involved.
The former DJ, who has several health problems including Parkinson’s, admitted 40 assaults – 36 counts of indecent assault on a male and four of indecent assault on a child.
He has a string of convictions for sex offences on boys.
The case was brought under Operation Yewtree, the police inquiry set up in the wake of the Savile scandal.
Peter Watt, director of national services at the NSPCC, said: “Chris Denning is a calculating and devious serial sex offender who preyed on children for decades. He grossly abused their trust and exploited their vulnerability in a despicable way. His only redeeming quality is that, by admitting his guilt, his victims didn’t have to go to court and relive the trauma he caused.
“This sentence rightly reflects the seriousness of his crimes and hopefully those he abused will find some solace in that.”