William Goad and his Legacy of Torment – The pedophile with thousands of victims

As the fourth anniversary of the jailing of sex beast William Goad approaches, Crime Reporter Carl Eve speaks to Sgt John Livingstone, one of the officers who brought him to justice, and discovers the list of his victims continues to grow

THE figures which lie behind predatory paedophile William Goad’s crimes are as immeasurable as the damage he has done to two, perhaps even three, generations of Plymouth people.

A great many of his victims have found solace in the bottle or the needle, or in extremes of violence to others and themselves. Some have taken their own lives, no longer capable of living in emotional and psychological agony. Their parents, brothers, sisters, partners and children have also become part of that suffering.

Goad is now 64. Jailed on October 4, 2004 he is just four years into serving a discretionary life sentence – although he still has the promise of a six-year, two month minimum tariff if he can show the authorities he is no longer a danger to the public.

Yet Goad’s perverse nature has undoubtedly created splinters which have worked their way deep into Plymouth’s skin.

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Sgt John Livingstone, who was part of the team who brought Goad to justice, was a Detective Constable at the time.

Gathering evidence against Goad, tracking down numerous victims, he still believes Goad’s boasts of attempting to beat his own record of abusing 142 boys in one year was no exaggeration.

He said there was a 35-year period between the dates the oldest and youngest victims mentioned in interview.

“We had victims from four decades. We worked out there to be thousands if he was as prolific as he boasted to be,” he said.

“Some only came forward because they were approached by us.”

Some of those interviewed by police never admitted to being victims, even though officers had sworn testimony by others who witnessed the horrific rapes.

Sgt Livingstone said: “They had put it behind them and didn’t want it brought up. The chances are they may take it to their doctor or a counsellor – more report it to them than to us.”

This was recently confirmed by staff at support group Twelve’s Company, which told The Herald they have received around one Goad-related referral a week since he was jailed.

Sgt Livingstone said: “Because it’s such a dirty little secret they don’t want it to be known, and Goad relied on that. He was quite successful in getting them to think it was their fault and their dirty little secret.”

Sgt Livingstone, who now works in Kingsbridge, is still regularly called by barristers and solicitors working for victims of Goad who are struggling with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

The authority invariably argues a victim’s own criminality bars them from compensation for their suffering. Sgt Livingstone argues the abuse they suffered preceded any criminality – and often helped create it.

Many of those sought out by investigators blamed themselves, beating themselves up over why they returned again and again to be abused. Some were trapped by fear, others were won over by presents and friendship which, though at odds with the violent and sexual abuse, meant they would often prefer it to difficulties at home.

But as many mothers pointed out to police, this turned their vulnerable sons into some of the city’s most problematic criminals.

Sgt Livingstone said: “They’re all over the country. We visited them in prisons, for horrendous crimes, violent crimes. They are very hard men in hard prisons.

“One guy came into the room as the top dog of the prison. He had this big pony tail. He thought we were there to speak about some offence.

“I happened to mention Goad and he physically shrank. Shirley [Det Con Shirley Thompson who worked alongside Sgt Livingstone] and I were amazed at the reaction. From a confident hard man to almost a little boy. He refused to go public.

“I saw him afterwards in a confrontational situation – he would just give me a smile.

“For the court case all of those we dealt with had criminal records, drug-related, alcohol-related, violence. It all seemed to be a product of the abuse.

“But when you spoke to them, got to know them, they were nice people. You forget their appearance, their record. They were very decent people.

“Goad created the persona of being well connected, a gangster.

“He told the boys he could have them got rid of, that he could get people to hurt their families.

“The majority of the people who went to court believed him even as he was in the dock. It took a lot of guts and determination to go to court when a lot of them still believed that he could get to them.”

Sgt Livingstone admitted there were previous investigations into Goad.

He said: “They didn’t go anywhere. Why that is I can’t say.

“There were rumours he was very well connected with authority types.”

Goad’s other safeguard was to choose his victims carefully.

Sgt Livingstone said: “He made sure they came from vulnerable backgrounds. Some were in children’s homes, yet he had access to the homes as an ‘uncle’.”

Goad tore his way through vulnerable, emotionally-starved young boys. One, who lived in abject poverty, admitted to police he cried the first time Goad hugged him as he had never been shown such kindness before.

Others marvelled at the open house policy which saw teams of youths hang out, drinking pop, eating snacks, playing table football or pool at Roville, one of Goad’s homes.

A self-made millionaire, Goad created an empire which was an alluring trap for his victims.

Selling items at knockdown prices, he would happily help out struggling single mums, even offering jobs to their young sons.

He created the Mount Gould Camping Club, which he ran himself, encouraging young boys to join.

As a former director of Cornish Market World, which still houses Ben’s Playworld, one of the largest indoor children’s play parks in the South West, staff noted he would happily sit and watch the children play for hours at a time. He owned two houses in Plymouth – in Tavistock Road and Ford Park Road – both overlooking school playing fields.

But for all his charm and initial kindness shown, it was never about consideration or caring for the boys.

As Sgt Livingstone notes, for abusers like Goad it was not about sex, it was about control.

“He had boys try and abduct others. One failed, saying he couldn’t do it and so he was raped and abused more violently than normally,” he said.

Operation Emotion, which targeted Goad, turned into Operation Faber to tackle other offenders mentioned during the Goad inquiry.

Sgt Livingstone said: “It opened my eyes about how much abuse there was. A lot of the people that we investigated were from the same generation as Goad, or older.

“There was not so much reporting or awareness to report things back then.

“[We found] some kids were told by police that they were ‘lying little queers’. Imagine getting up the courage to tell the police about being abused and being told you’re not believed?

“I heard stories about boys being held down, of parties of men turning up, paedophile rings. Some [of the men] were older, older than Goad. They would’ve been in charge at the time. He learned from them, learned tactics and contacts.

“Groups of them used to frequent down by what is now Toys R Us, it used to be a market area then. There was loads of movement and action there. Boys would go and meet people in cars.

“This would’ve been the 1950s and 1960s, boys going to town to meet men in cars and do things.

“These people are never going to come forward.”

So when will the nightmare created by Goad come to an end?

Sgt Livingstone believes there are decades more hurt to be dealt with.

He said: “We saw victims over four decades. You could easily be talking about another 30 years before the last ones disclose – some may never tell or disclose. Some could deal with it. Some could commit suicide, some already have.

“One told his mother he had been abused by Goad when he was 13. In his 20s he poured petrol over himself and set it alight.

“A few over the years have committed suicide, some through drugs, some through alcohol.

“It’s going to be an ongoing problem, not just coming forward, but just the other things they do.

“How many others are not dealing with it? How many of our targeted criminals are a reaction from Goad or the others?

“We may never know how many because they may never come forward.

“The people who will notice or have indications are the non-police organisations, the doctors, groups like Twelve’s Company.

“They will see them turn up at court, see the court reports in the paper, or see them in the obituary column.”

You can reach Twelve’s Company by calling 01752 220400 or visit their website www.twelvescompany.co.uk.

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