Preston children's home worker Fred Wilding jailed for raping girls in his care

A paedophile pensioner has been jailed for raping vulnerable girls whilst working at a Preston children’s home in the 1970s.

By Matthew Calderbank
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 5:33 pm

Frederick Wilding, 80, of Windmill View, Wesham, was convicted in September after he was found guilty of raping and indecently assaulting three girls at Harris Park Children's Home.

At Preston Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday, November 9), the disgraced pensioner was sentenced to 9 years in prison. The 80-year-old paedophile was also ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register for the remainder of his life.

WATCH: In our video player above you can watch the moment when the Post knocked on Wilding's door in Wesham and asked him whether he would like to apologise to his victims. "I have nothing to apologise for," said the convicted rapist and paedophile.

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Frederick Wilding, 80, of Windmill View, Wesham, has been jailed for 9 years after being found guilty of raping and indecently assaulting three girls at Preston's Harris Park Children's Home in the 1970s

All three girls were in their teens when they were preyed on by Wilding, Preston Crown Court heard. They cannot be identified for legal reasons.

At trial, he was found guilty of four counts of raping a child under 16 and was handed 9 years imprisonment on each count, but the jail terms will run concurrently.

Wilding was also found guilty of three counts of indecent assault against a girl under 14, but the 18 months imprisonment for these offences will also run concurrent with his rape sentence.

The pensioner had lived at the children's home in Garstang Road, run by Lancashire County Council, with his late wife Kathleen, who was employed as a house mother at the home in the 1970s. The couple's two daughters also lived there with them.

Wilding lived at Harris Park Children's Home in Garstang Road, Preston with his late wife Kathleen, who was employed as a house mother at the home in the 1970s, and their two daughters

One of the victims described how she was sent away from Holly House - the house run by Wilding and his wife on the Harris Park estate - to a separate house on the complex after Mrs Wilding discovered her diary and learned of her husband's heinous crimes.

During his trial, Preston Crown Court heard the first woman made abuse allegations against him in August 2000 but it was filed away and only resurrected when other allegations came to light regarding the children's home.

Tragically the woman died in February ahead of the trial and never saw her abuser face justice.

Jurors were played a video of her filmed in July 2019 in a care home in which she confirmed the contents of her statement to a police officer, who then read it aloud on the footage on her behalf, due to her ill health at the time.

It has been calculated that more than 2,200 vulnerable children had been cared for within the grounds of the Harris Park Children's Home, which was run by Lancashire County Council

The second victim, who gave evidence in person, confirmed she made a complaint statement in 2016 when she was spoken to about another resident at the home - Christopher Hartley - who was also tried for sexual offences.

She alleges she was indecently assaulted by Wilding aged 13, when she would get up early and do chores, and during the summer holidays when many children would return to their families during holidays.

A third woman said Wilding raped her as a child, pushing her onto the floor while she was wearing her nightie.

Wilding left the home in the early 1980s because his wife had been seriously ill.

He had worked as a care assistant at Croft House, Freckleton, at John Booth's foundry in Preston, at the Royal Preston Hospital as a porter for a decade, and at Sion House in Ribbleton as a care assistant for 15 years.

The orphanage, which consisted of seven detached houses run by house parents, was opened in early November 1888 and leased to Lancashire County Council in 1940.

There were usually 12 children in each house and it has been calculated that more than 2,200 children had been cared for within the grounds of the institution.

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