By Lisa Jones, Wales On Sunday
November, 22 2009
A CONVICTED paedophile fostered more than 20 vulnerable children over the course of four years, Wales on Sunday can reveal.
Pervert pensioner David Anthony Roberts, 69, was accused of sexually abusing one of the children he was supposed to be caring for.
The former pub landlord was trapped by his wife, Cheryl, who posed as a 14-year-old girl in an internet chatroom as Roberts performed a sex act on himself and sent her explicit messages, under the belief she was a teenage girl called Kelly.
He was spared jail earlier this month after he admitted eight charges related to making and possessing indecent images of children and attempting to engage in a sexual act in the presence of a child.
Roberts, of Pantygog, Bridgend, was given a three-year community order, with compulsory attendance on a sex offenders’ programme. He must also sign on the sex offenders’ register for five years and have no future internet contact with anyone under 18.
Roberts and his now-estranged wife began fostering children for Bridgend council in 2003, and took in 22 of both sexes up to the age of 14 over four years in both long, short-term and respite placements. They were registered to look after up to four children at any one time. But they were suspended in 2007, when one of the children in their care made a complaint of sexual abuse against Roberts and all children who were at the home were moved to alternative carers.
Social services went to all the children Roberts fostered to check whether they had been the victim of any offence.
A spokesman for the authority said: “If any concerns of a child protection nature arise about a foster carer, a procedure is immediately launched which includes considering and assessing all children with whom the carer has been in contact.
“This was followed in this particular case.”
South Wales Police launched an immediate investigation but decided not to charge Roberts.
Wales on Sunday has learnt the couple were being reassessed for their suitability to become foster parents again when Cheryl went to the police with her shocking discovery.
Social Services and South Wales Police officers re-examined the 2007 complaint after Roberts’ conviction.
A spokesman for Bridgend council said “rigorous procedures” were followed for the recruitment and selection of its foster carers.
He said: “Bridgend County Borough Council was in the process of completing a reassessment of the couple to determine whether they could resume their roles as foster carers when a second allegation was made, this time by Cheryl Roberts, to which David Anthony Roberts later pleaded guilty.
“When this second allegation arose, the South Wales Police reviewed the original complaint, and again found that it could not be evidenced.
“Residents can be assured that the council’s current procedures are robust and are in line with all statutory regulations and national standards.
“Prospective foster carers are subject to enhanced checks with the Criminal Records Bureau. They are also subject to background checks with the local authority in any area they have lived in for a 10-year period (or longer if deemed necessary) as well as checks with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.
“We also carry out reference checks with employers, and if the prospective foster carers have children of their own, we check with health visitors and head teachers.
“In addition, prospective foster carers have to provide a minimum of three personal references.
“Bridgend County Borough Council is confident that its current procedures comply with all statutory regulations and national standards.
“Following his conviction, Mr Roberts’ suspension will continue until he is formally de-registered. Mrs Roberts will be allowed to foster after she completes an independent risk assessment.”
A spokeswoman for South Wales Police said it “received a report of sexual abuse from a child who had been in the foster care of a 68-year-old man from the Bridgend area.
“We investigated this report and in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service found no evidence to bring charges against any individual. Following a separate investigation, we decided to review the original allegation from the child but still no charges could be brought against anyone.”