A CRUEL foster carer has been jailed for 20 months for sexually abusing three vulnerable young girls in his care after police outrage sparked a U-turn in his sentencing.

The man, aged in his seventies and from Redditch, Worcestershire, admitted six counts of child cruelty, four of indecent assault on children and three of indecency with a child, at Hereford Crown Court last October.

Yet the twice married grandad, who cannot be named for legal reasons, only received a suspended prison sentence for his reign of terror against the girls, all aged under 10.

But his case was brought back to court last week following advice from the Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC.

Giving judgment, Lord Justice Pitchford, sitting with Mr Justice Underhill and Mr Justice Lindblom, at London’s Court of Appeal, said the suspended sentence originally imposed was “unduly lenient” and re-sentenced the pensioner to the prison term.

Lord Justice Pitchford said: “There is no indication that the offender is not fit to serve a sentence of imprisonment, nor that appropriate treatment would not be available if necessary.

“We are dealing with what we regard as a serious case of sexual misconduct by a foster carer against young children over a significant period of years.”

Worcestershire social services approved the man’s appointment as a short term foster parent in the 1980s.

They are currently reviewing the case and will prepare a report for the Safeguarding Children’s Board.

The man adopted some of the children who came to live with him.

But behind his outwardly caring public image he subjected youngsters in his care to horrific abuse.

The pervert isolated his terrified victims in the front room of his home when his wife went out shopping.

The NSPCC investigated him in 1997, but there was no prosecution.

Then two years later three of his former foster children reported to police that he had abused them.

Four others made similar complaints.

He was finally brought to justice when two of the female victims came forward and made complaints about him in 2009, resulting in a third victim also telling of her ordeal at his hands.

West Mercia police undertook a 15 month investigation into the allegations.

The foster carer was arrested on suspicion of child abuse charges although he was not charged until late 2010.

It is believed that police were concerned that he was not sent to prison in the first instance, but are now satisfied with the Court of Appeal ruling.

A spokesman for West Mercia Police said: “We would like to pay tribute to the bravery and strength of character displayed by the victims and witnesses involved in this case and hope that now the proceedings are over it brings them some closure. We wish them all the best.”

A spokesperson for Worcestershire County Council, said: “We do not comment on individual cases, however since this couple were approved first as carers back in the 1980s and subsequently as adopters, a number of lessons have been learned both nationally and locally.

“In particular, the way carers and prospective adopters are assessed, approved and monitored has changed with improved good practice guidance and new minimum standards.

“We have undertaken an internal review to ensure any lessons learned from this case are implemented and a report will be submitted to the Worcestershire Safeguarding Children Board.”

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