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Abusers' £2m Lair: Helltower For Sale

Fury over charity's bid to sell pervert's church

By Marion Scott, Sunday Mail, 25/04/2004

A CHURCH where young victims were abused by a paedophile has been put up for sale for £2million. John Porteous was branded The Beast of the Belltower after luring children to the church to molest them.

He took them to the Mount Zion Church at Quarrier's charity village in Renfrewshire where he was meant to be helping care for orphans.

But the children's charity is now trying to sell the church to developers drafting plans for 12 luxury flats, worth £500,000 each.

The charity, which has announced £27m of projects this year, says it cannot afford to spend £50,000 a year maintaining the building.

But yesterday the pervert's victims reacted with fury at the proposed sale.

And developers Premier Burrell admitted Quarrier's bosses had not told them of the 50ft belltower's sinister past.

Spokesman Andrew Burrell said: "Let's just say they didn't put that information on their sales schedule."

One of Porteous's victims, businessman David Whelan, 46, is disgusted at the sale, He said: "They're cashing in from the sale of a building where children were tormented by a paedophile paid to care for them.

"Yet Quarrier's haven't even had the basic humanity to apologise to the children whose lives have been destroyed.

"If they had any sense of morality, they'd use the £2million from the sale to provide help and counselling for victims of the abusers they employed.

"The belltower was a scene of torment and at least some good might come of its sale.

"But the charity is only concerned with denying the abuse ever happened, not helping its victims."

Porteous, 71, is one of four carers who have been convicted of abusing children while working for the Bridge of Weir charity.

A fresh probe has seen seven more ex-housemasters charged with abuse.

Quarrier's bosses are facing multi-million pound civil actions from victims who were attacked by the paedophiles while in their in care during the 1960s and 70s.

But victims claim that the charity is involved in a plot to discredit them even calling in false memory experts to probe their abuse claims.

Award-winning property firm Premier Burrell announced their plans for the church last week and described the church's historic origins and fine architectural features as having "enormous potential".

Mr Burrell had even said: "The stained glass and tower will provide a dramatic feel."

Porteous, a house father at the children's complex, was jailed for eight years in November 2002 for sexually abusing two boys in the belltower in the 60s and 70s.

Earlier this year, he became the first paedophile to use a loophole created by indecency law changes to have three years knocked off his sentence.

Despite his criminal conviction and that of others, horrified victims have told how Quarrier's insurers are involved in a plot to discredit them.

Child sex abuse specialist Ray Wyre and controversial false memory syndrome psychiatrist Janet Boakes have been called in to pick through victim statements.

Even cases where abusers have been found guilty in criminal court, Quarrier’s insurers Norwich Union plan to challenge the Scottish justice system by denying abuse took place.

Victims' lawyer Cameron Fyfe said: "We're astonished insurers are taking such a stance."

We revealed how Porteous became the first convicted paedophile given legal aid to fight civil damages claims involving a former Quarrier's boy.

A boy made sex abuse allegations as far back as 1982, but Porteous was allowed to continue as a houseparent.

Michael Orr, 35, was just 13 when he first reported the allegations but was then sent to a residential school miles away from Quarriers .

When Porteous was tried in 2002, he was found not guilty of charges relating to Michael who said: "Ironically, one of the police officers investigating further allegations against John Porteous was one of the officers I originally spoke to in 1982."

In 1996 Porteous was appointed by former Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Forsyth as Chairman of the Children's Panel Advisory Council for Inverclyde.

Even after his conviction, his wife, Helen, 63, was still living in a house in Quarrier's Village and victims feared he would join her on his release.

Last night, a Quarrier's spokeswoman claimed the charity has tried to help all the victims of abuse. She added: "If the sale goes through it will be less then £2m.

"All proceeds will be ploughed back into facilities at Quarrier's village and that includes the church, congregation and local community."

The charity will not be paid their £2m price unless Inverclyde Council agree to the luxury flats plan.

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