Sick paedo choirmaster finally jailed after 50 years of sexually abusing boys

A vile former choirmaster who got away with sexually assaulting boys for 50 years has finally been jailed.

Richard Owen, also known as Franklyn Stanowski, sexually abused 14 boys at churches in Cheshire 50 years ago and is at last now facing justice.

He met the children when they joined the choir at churches in Winsford, Knutsford and Altrincham.

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In private rooms, and out of sight of adults, he told them to remove their trousers to be struck on the buttocks for his own sexual gratification. The offences occurred between 1968 and 1998 when the boys were aged under 16.

The 70-year-old, from Winsford, admitted 27 offences involving indecent assault of underage boys and was sentenced to 12 years in prison at Chester Crown Court on Friday, September 30.

Owen would often offer to take the boys, who are now aged between 38 and 63, to church in his car, provide some of them with extra tuition as well as take them on trips away.

They would be subjected to the abuse as acts of "discipline" with Owen telling them they had been naughty.

Afterwards he would give them money, hand over sweets, alcohol or take them out for meals. On occasions he would be seen standing outside their homes, watching and waiting for them.

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The abuse first began at St John’s Over in Winsford involving a boy until Owen left and began working at St Cross in Knutsford until 1980. During this time a nine-year-old boy caught his attention as well as a further three boys.

In the late 1980s Owen was a choirmaster at St John’s in Altrincham and remained in this role until 1998. As part of his work he also volunteered at a local primary school teaching the children to sing as well as attending school trips to recruit the boys to join the choir.

It is during this time that he abused numerous boys, with hundreds of occurrences taking place over many years.

The abuse left the boys terrified and scared. It led them to either withdraw from the choir, or leave the area in which they lived to get away from him. In some cases, his victims believed his actions were normal.

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Cheshire Constabulary’s investigation into Owen’s crimes began following a past cases review into allegations of sexual abuse, which was commissioned by the Church of England.

Owen was arrested on 25 March 2020 and subsequently charged in January 2022. On sentencing Judge Leeming still considered Owen a dangerous offender and a risk to young boys.

Detective Inspector Dave Hutcheon, of Cheshire Constabulary’s major investigation teams, said: “Owen preyed on young and innocent children betraying their trust for his own sexual gratification while also becoming infatuated and obsessed with them.

“The decades of abuse and his behaviour deeply affected so many boys in many ways and continued into their adulthood."

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.

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