A Seaford couple who were acquitted of child cruelty offences in a case dating back to the mid 1970s said their lives have been devastated by the false accusations.
Denis and Aideen Jones, of Sandgate Close, have spoken out this week after a jury at Chester Crown Court took less than 30 minutes to return a unanimous not guilty verdict on all seven counts of child cruelty levelled against them.
The two accusers, now in their 50s, were cared for by the Jones’ 40 years ago.
The couple have been on bail for the past two and a half years after they were arrested under Operation Pallial, a police investigation into child abuse claims at care homes in North Wales.
Following their arrest in August 2013, Denis, 66, and Aideen, 63, lost their jobs and were forced to spend more than £100,000 in legal costs.
Despite a full acquittal, they cannot claim this money back and are unlikely to return to their careers.
Until now, the Jones’ have been unable to speak publically about their case. It took 18 months for them to be charged, in which time they received online threats and were forced to leave their home for periods of time.
Mr Jones said: “There is no shred of truth whatsoever in any of the allegations, but we never dreamt that it would take nearly three years to prove our innocence.
“The impact on our lives has been catastrophic. Our life savings have been wiped out and our future is uncertain. We have only survived this ordeal because we are surrounded by people who know without question we are completely incapable of any degree of child cruelty.”
Mrs Jones said: “We are angry at our accusers, but are more concerned about a system that gave credence to these wild accusations.
“False allegations divert resources away from keeping children safe and undermine genuine victims of abuse.
“The jury made up their minds within minutes, which is very telling. Our innocence has been proven, but we will have to live with the repercussions of this for the rest of our lives.”
At the time of their arrest, Mr Jones was the national research officer for CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Social Services) and Mrs Jones was Chief Executive of the Southdown Housing Association.
While on bail in 2014, Mrs Jones was awarded an OBE for services to the intellectually disabled.
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