Great Ormond Street porter jailed for sexual offences against boys

Great Ormond Street Hospital porter, 55, who sexually assaulted boys ‘thousands of times’, hid night vision camera in child’s room and stole toys from ward to groom victims is jailed for at least 18 years

  • Paul Farrell, 55, was jailed for life and must serve a minimum of 18 years in prison
  • He admitted 69 sexual assault charges against 8 victims between 1985 and 2020
  • Wood Green Crown Court heard how he had preyed on several sets of brothers

Paul Farrell, 55, has admitted 69 sexual assault charges against eight victims

A former Great Ormond Street Hospital porter who hid a night vision camera in a boy’s room and stole toys donated to wards to give to his victims has been jailed for life.  

Paul Farrell, 55, has been handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 18 years at Wood Green Crown Court after admitting a string of sexual offences against young boys.

Farrell, 55, has admitted 69 sexual assault charges against eight victims, as well as an additional seven charges of possessing indecent images of children. 

From 1985 to 2020, he abused victims aged between five and 16 hundreds of times, but the true number is possibly in the thousands.         

Farrell, of Kentish Town, north London, has confessed abusing two boys in the linen room at the world-famous children’s hospital in central London.

Wood Green Crown Court heard how he preyed on several sets of brothers, who were often neglected by their family, grooming them by buying them gifts and then forcing himself on them.  

Paul Douglass, prosecuting, said the number of incidents was ‘not less than 560’ and the true figure is believed to be ‘in the thousands’. 

During the three day sentencing hearing at Wood Green Crown Court one of the victims addressed Farrell from the witness box and said he would not allow the abuse to ‘break him’.

Looking straight at Farrell, the 22-year-old dressed in a black tracksuit top with a white trim said: ‘I am going to get over this.

‘I want you to know that you are not going to break me.’

Farrell befriended the victim at his home but it was not long before he began buying the then eight-year-old boy sweets and taking him to Arsenal games, while abusing him every weekend.

Judge Noel Lucas, QC, sentenced Farrell to life with a minimum of 18 years and said he caused his victims and their parents ‘utter devastation’.

Paul Douglass, prosecuting, told the court Farrell carried out several hundred discreet acts of sexual assault over a period of 35 years against boys aged five to 16.

Mr Douglass said: ‘The number is not less than 560 and over a period of years. The true figure is believed to be in the thousands.

‘The defendant ruthlessly exploited the vulnerability of his victims.

Farrell, of Kentish Town , confessed to abusing boys (above: Great Ormond Street Hospital)

‘The defendant’s victims covered up what he had done to them to protect their families.

‘Such was his pattern of manipulation the result is that the defendant successfully created a wedge between them and their parents.

‘His presence was regarded as benign by the parents.

‘The defendant has, throughout all the 37 years of his life, lived a double life. He forced each one of his victims to live double lives themselves.’

Mr Douglass said the offences against two of the victims happened in the hospital, in the linen room where Farrell was based while employed there and would access with a key.

The abuse also occurred at the victims’ homes in London and Essex, a community centre, a caravan in Kent and at his mother’s address.

On some instances Farrell sexually abused three siblings but neither of the brothers knew what was happening to the other at the time, the court heard.

During the hearing Mr Douglass read statements from victims including one who emigrated to get away from Farrell and has suffered from alcoholism ever since.

Paul Farrell, 55, from Camden, North London, has been handed a life sentence with a minimum of 18 years after admitting a string of sexual offences against boys at Wood Green Crown Court

His brother was also abused and has endured severe depression and anxiety attacks throughout his adult life.

Farrell lured two other brothers to the children’s hospital on the ‘pretext of work experience’ where he would carry out the abuse.

Mr Douglass said Farrell would lead ‘Victim C’ into the linen room of the hospital and lock the door behind them.

‘I would be sitting at a table in the linen room, he would lock the door. I knew it was going to happen,’ the victim said.

‘Someone would knock on the door and he would say ‘shush’ waiting for whoever it is to go away and continue with the abuse.

‘He was that f—g clever and manipulative. You never got caught. I know he manipulated every single occasion.’

Victim C said: ‘I would have took it to the grave because I wouldn’t want anyone to know, you feel dirty.

‘In my life now I’ve got no emotion. I have no emotion because of him. He took everything away from me at a young age.’

 From 1985 to 2020, he abused victims aged between five and 16 hundreds of times, but the true number is possibly in the thousands. Pictured: Stock image

The court heard the sexual abuse perpetrated on Victim C lasted nearly a decade and began when he was five years old.

Farrell also abused the schoolboy’s brother, victim D, for over six years starting at the age of six – and also took him to the linen room at the hospital. 

Farrell took another child, Victim D, to the Highgate Community Centre to play with other boys and give him boxes of chocolate and money.

Mr Douglass added: ‘He was sometimes abused in the presence of other boys.’

Farrell also groomed entire families, often keeping notes on his phone to remind himself to send texts, buy presents and offer his babysitting services.

The prosecutor said: ‘He kept a diary in which he noted down day by day his strategy in order to keep them under his control.

‘He would remind himself what presents to buy, what member of the family and when to offer his babysitting services.’

Recounting the abuse of victims, referred to as F, H and G, Mr Douglass said: ‘There are four brothers, four sons of this family and the defendant has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the eldest three.

‘It is clear from the evidence that the defendant effectively manipulated and groomed the whole family.’

Farrell’s diary entries read to the court said: ‘Tell F five week of hidden camera in your bedrooms they are very good in the dark.

‘Tell F he is the nicest boy I have ever met and I have met a lot of boys.

‘Give F ten pounds for letting him stay in your room.

‘Tell F hope you have kept your promise.

‘Take a picture of F naked and in boxers.

‘Tell F good news I am no longer interested in you.’

‘It appears the defendant would take toys donated to Great Ormond Street and give them to G and H.’

Farrell also told one of his victims his father’s cancer would return if they he told anyone about the abuse, the court heard.

The porter came to the attention of the police in late 2019 when his first victims, A and B, finally told their family what had happened.

Victim A had spotted Farrell on Facebook and saw he was still working at Great Ormond Street Hospital around children and it made him ‘very angry’, the court heard.

The brother’s sister, known only as X, later bumped into Farrell in a gym that year.

She confronted him and said: ‘I know what you did’ but Farrell barked back: ‘Shut up you don’t know what you’re talking about.’

The woman moved away but turned around and told Farrell: ‘I know your dirty little secret.’

Farrell was reported to police in September 2019 and arrested on 16 January 2020.

The remaining five victims known to the court subsequently came forward.

Police have spoken to 30 other persons of interest who may have been victims of Farrell, but there will be no further charges, the court heard.

David Osborne, defending, said Farrell was ‘sorry’ for what he had done.

Mr Osborne said: ‘It is very difficult in circumstances such as these to advance any kind of apology to people.

‘He is, to anybody listening, sorry for what he has done. He says he wants to make that apology not because he was caught, because he was sorry.

‘He does hope that his sentencing will begin a process of healing for those who have been damaged by his behaviour.’

Farrell, of Church Road, Camden, north London, admitted 69 counts of sexual abuse against eight victims and seven counts of possessing indecent images of children.

A further 20 charges have been left to lie on file. 

Judge Noel Lucas, QC, told Farrell: ‘For the whole of your adult life you have persued your predatory interest in committing intimate sexual acts with very young boys with all consuming determination, irrespective of their attempts to make you desist.

‘It’s also clear from the facts that you have gone about your predatory interest in engaging sexual acts with very young boys with a great deal of planning and cunning, you’re clever.

‘It’s not the case that you didn’t realise the true wickedness of your offending.

‘Your phone shows planning with care, you ruthlessly exploited the vulnerability of your victims.

‘You insinuated yourself into their lives and family of the victims.

‘In many instances they regarded you as a family member and you were totally trusted by the family as a much loved friend and family member.

‘The term grooming has come to be used in recent times to describe the cultivation in relationships of victims of sexual abuse.

‘You are an expert in this, you planned with skill and care, in so many instances you normalised what you were doing in their minds.

‘In many cases the boys were extremely vulnerable because of their family circumstances.

‘Many of them in a way that one commented that sexual abuse of him was preferential to physical abuse suffered at home.

‘You were not only an expert in inserting yourself into the minds of young boys to gratify your sexual desire, you instilled in them the fear of what would happen if they disclosed what you were doing, and you were an expert in that respect.

‘One boy, you made believe that if he exposed your abuse his father’s cancer would return and if he did it would be his fault.

‘You succeeded in keeping your offending secret for 35 years.’

Farrell was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of 18 years before he may be considered for release by the Parole Board.

Judge Lucas had said he believed there is a ‘very real risk’ that Farrell’s risk of offending would continue into the future.

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