Seaford couple charged with historic child cruelty offences

Aideen Jones
Aideen Jones

The former CEO of a housing association in Seaford has been charged with historic child cruelty offences following an investigation by the National Crime Agency.

Aideen Jones, who was head of the Southdown Housing Association and who received an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list 2014 for serving vulnerable people in Sussex, has been charged along with her husband, Denis William Jones, who is also from Seaford.

Mr Jones, aged 65, and Mrs Jones, aged 62, were arrested and bailed in August 2013 and have since been charged with offences relating to two boys, both of whom were aged under 16 when the offences are alleged to have taken place, between 1975 and 1980.

After 13 years as chief executive of Southdown Housing Association, a not-for-profit specialist provider of care, support and housing services to vulnerable people in Sussex, Mrs Jones stepped down from her post in November 2013 - three months after her arrest and just a couple of months before receiving her OBE ‘for services to people with intellectual disabilities’.

Denis William Jones faces four offences of child cruelty and his wife, Aideen, faces three. The couple, who have been married for 41 years, are due to appear at Wrexham Magistrates’ Court on March 25.

Mr and Mrs Jones moved to Seaford in the early 1980s, where they have since become well-known after opening their courtyard garden to visitors in a bid to raise money for charity.

All historic child cruelty charges result from new enquiries made by officers working on Operation Pallial, a National Crime Agency investigation into recent allegations of past abuse in the care system in North Wales.

Notorious care home boss John Allen was jailed for life last month having been the first case brought to court under Operation Pallial.

To date, a total of 35 people have now been arrested or interviewed under caution by NCA Officers. Of these 31 are men and four are women.

A total of 15 people have been charged. Of the remaining 20, 18 are on bail while investigations continue. Two have been released without charge.

A total of 14 people are due to stand trial in 2015 for one or more offences, across a number of trials.

A total of 291 people have reported one or more account of abuse to Operation Pallial. There are currently 249 active complaints under investigation.

Operation Pallial has listed 68 people, both men and women, as suspects at this time. Of these 21 have been arrested and 15 have voluntarily attended for interview. Activity to locate 6 is ongoing, (one overseas), and 26 are believed to be dead.

Work to identify further potential suspects and to update all victims is continuing.