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CPS: Joint statement on Vanessa George, Colin Blanchard and Angela Allen

01/10/2009

Statement on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service, Greater Manchester Police, Devon and Cornwall Constabulary and Nottinghamshire Constabulary.

Ann Reddrop, Head of the Crown Prosecution Service South West Complex Casework Unit, said:  "These three individuals each acted in a way which ordinary people will find hard to understand. They may have never met but between them they committed shocking acts of child abuse.

"They showed complete disregard for the lives of their victims, their own families and those they worked with, all of whom have been left devastated by these crimes.

"From the beginning of this enquiry officers from Greater Manchester, Nottinghamshire and Devon & Cornwall all worked closely with each other and with the Crown Prosecution Service. It is a small comfort that by acting swiftly and by sharing information, the law enforcement agencies were able to ensure Blanchard, George and Allen did not commit even more offences.

"The CPS South West Complex Casework Unit took on this case at an early stage when it became apparent that any prosecution required all three offenders to be on trial together to allow a jury to understand exactly what they had each done (whether encouraged by one of the others or not) and the Judge to sentence at the end of the day also aware of the full picture. Should they have been tried separately around the country, the sheer magnitude of their offending and the amount of contact they had with each other may not fully have been realised.

"Vanessa George's actions left the community of Plymouth shocked. George grossly abused her position of trust. While her victims may be too young to understand her crime, their families do have to deal with those effects.

"Throughout the enquiry Devon & Cornwall Police, along with Plymouth City Council Children's Services, have been supporting families whose children were at the nursery, as well as George's former colleagues, who have been left deeply affected by her actions. This work will continue in partnership with the Local Safeguarding Children Board and it remains a police priority to identify any of George's victims. This has been the hardest element of the police investigation, both for the families and officers involved, and despite the efforts of some of the country's leading specialists in child identification, we may never be able to identify those children.

"The prosecution team will never know what went on in these individuals' minds at the time they committed their crimes but we hope the families involved can take some comfort knowing that all three have been convicted in a court of law today. We must now await the sentences imposed by the court and we anticipate they will reflect the seriousness of the offences and the trauma caused to the victims and their families."

Ends