Convicted paedophile jailed for raping and killing boy of 7 (23.10.92)

Convicted paedophile jailed for raping and killing boy of 7 – Leslie Bailey
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Times, The (London, England)-October 23, 1992
Author: Bill Frost

A CONVICTED child killer was yesterday given two terms of life imprisonment after pleading guilty to the manslaughter and buggery of Mark Tildesley, the seven-year-old boy who disappeared in June 1984 after visiting a fairground near his home at Wokingham, Berkshire.

Leslie Bailey, 39, from Hackney, East London, denied murdering the child, whose body has never been found, but admitted manslaughter and buggery. The court heard that he was already serving a life sentence for the murder of a six-year-old boy after a homosexual orgy and a further 15-year term for the manslaughter of a teenage male prostitute. Papers on two other men in connection with Mark Tildesley’s death have been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service but they have not been charged.

Mr Justice Hidden, passing sentence at Reading Crown Court, told Bailey that what he and other members of a paedophile ring had inflicted on Mark Tildesley in the hours before his death was “inhuman, wicked and totally harrowing”. The judge went on: “Your cruelty to this defenceless little boy just before he died was absolutely despicable.”

Bailey, who had earlier been described as a social inadequate of less than average intelligence, stood impassively in the dock as the judge told him: “You are a public menace. You are a danger to young boys. The sentence I pass is the only fit penalty in view of the dreadful nature of the crimes.”

After sentence had been passed Lavinia Tildesley, the dead boy’s mother, spoke of her relief that Bailey had been jailed for life. “I’m glad he is behind bars for ever and cannot ever come out to do this to somebody else’s child,” she said. Mrs Tildesley said she would not be able to lead a normal life until Mark’s body was found. She would never forgive Bailey for what he had done. She was asked if she thought Bailey’s sentence was adequate. “They should have hanged him,” she replied.

Earlier John Nutting, for the prosecution, had given the court a harrowing account of Mark’s last hours. On June 30, 1984, he had asked his father for permission to visit the fair. He promised to be home by 7.30pm. It was the last Mark’s parents were ever to see of the child, Mr Nutting said.

That day Bailey and his homosexual lover, Lennie Smith, had driven from London to Wokingham to visit a friend who had a caravan parked close to the fairground. The journey was a prelude to Bailey’s induction to the paeodophile ring, Mr Nutting said. Once at the fairground, Smith left Bailey to find his friend, Sidney Cooke. Some minutes later he returned with Cooke, who was holding a small boy by the hand. The child appeared to be dragging back and unwilling to be led, Mr Nutting said. The men took Mark to Cooke’s caravan where the child was forced to drink drugged milk and then subjected to multiple rape.

Smith and Bailey held Mark as each assaulted him. Bailey began to panic when the boy showed no sign of life but Cooke reassured the men by saying he would take him home.

Police investigating the disappearance took hundreds of statements and spent thousands of hours engaged in what proved to be a futile search for his body. The breakthrough came almost seven years later, when Bailey’s solicitors contacted police and said their client wanted to be interviewed.

Detectives selected to interview Bailey were given training at a clinic in Birmingham which specialises in the treatment of sex offenders. They were taught to draw information from suspects who could be moody, manipulative, and insulting or had deliberately chosen to forget the horrific details of their crimes.

Bailey was interviewed by detectives for two days in August last year. His statement ran to 600 pages and contained many contradictions, Mr Nutting told the court. During the course of the investigation, Bailey took police to the spot where the caravan had been parked, close to the funfair.

The court was also told of Bailey’s record of violent sexual crime after Mark’s death. He was jailed for life last year after pleading guilty to the murder of Barry Lewis, a six-year-old abducted near his home in southeast London and raped. Bailey was already serving a 15-year jail term for the manslaughter of Jason Swift, 14, a rent boy who had been kidnapped by the paedophile ring.

Neither Smith nor Cooke have been charged in connection with the boy’s death. Sidney Cooke, a 64-year-old fairground worker, was convicted with Bailey in 1991 for the death of Jason Swift and given a 19-year sentence.

After yesterday’s trial, Detective Supt Mick Short, the Thames Valley officer who led the enquiry, said papers on the two men had been sent to the director of public prosecutions a year ago. He added: “Bailey, although involved in the killing of three boys, was not the main offender, not the most wicked and evil member of the paedophile ring.”

Last night, the Crown Prosecution Service said: “There have been suspects considered where we have decided there is insufficient evidence.” Two cases from the enquiry are still due to go to court.

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