Child abuser brought to justice 40 years on

Harold Burnett, 81, denied allegations of historic sex offences against three children.
Harold Burnett, 81, denied allegations of historic sex offences against three children.
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An elderly man has been found guilty of historic child abuse dating back more than four decades.

Harold Burnett, 81, had claimed the allegations were made up by his victims in a bid to get his money.

But a jury at Preston Crown Court yesterday returned guilty verdicts to all but one of the charges against him.

During the nine-day trial, two men and a woman – all now in their 50s and 60s – told of their abuse at the hands of Burnett, of Lytham Road, Lytham.

The court heard they were sexually assaulted at a small terraced house in south Fylde.

One of the victims told how his life was made “horrible” by the crimes.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said Burnett was a strong man with a “vile temper” – but the abuse stopped when he was 12 and physically resisted.

He added: “He was kind to me but there was an element of menace about it as I knew there was something wrong about it.

“I knew I couldn’t tell anybody.”

The court also heard from a woman who said she stayed silent for decades about her suffering. She described her abuser as “controlling” and “a bully”.

He targeted her on a regular basis over a number of years, the court heard.

Burnett denied six charges of gross indecency with a child, four charges of indecent assault on a female and nine charges of indecent assault on a male child.

His defence claimed the allegations were made up against him because the victims were after his money.

Burnett, a former business man, was described in court as “wealthy”.

The jury was told he believed the victims had “colluded together... for financial reward”.

However, the jury yesterday returned a string of guilty verdicts.

Burnett was found not guilty on one count of indecent assault on a female.

He will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on November 2.