Barking mother's regret at silence over Harry Day
A MOTHER whose son went to summer camps led by sex offender, Henry Day, has spoken of the day her child came home covered in suspicious bruises and the guilt she feels over keeping quiet. Day, who founded the Young Citizen s Guild in Dagenham in 1957, wa
A MOTHER whose son went to summer camps led by sex offender, Henry Day, has spoken of the day her child came home covered in suspicious bruises and the guilt she feels over keeping quiet.
Day, who founded the Young Citizen's Guild in Dagenham in 1957, was last month found guilty of 21 counts of sexual abuse against boys.
The 70-year-old MBE, known as Harry, was jailed at Norwich Crown Court for 13 years after jurors heard how he assaulted eight members of the guild at a camp at Hemsby, Norfolk between 1973 and 1995.
When the Barking resident and mother, who did not want to be named, first read about the grave allegations surrounding Day, she was not overly surprised.
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Unlike many of those who had met Day and held him in great esteem, she had her suspicions for many years.
Her son joined the Young Citizen's Guild - which offered youngsters the chance to work with the emergency services - in the mid 1980s when he was about 12-years-old.
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"It seemed like such wonderful organisation", she said. "And Harry was always being praised in the papers, so I was more than happy for my son to be part of it."
She says her son would go along to the guild's club in Dagenham during the week and over the summer months he would join Harry, the other youngsters and a team of youth workers for weekends at the Hemsby caravan park.
On one of these weekends Day turned up on her doorstep with her son. To her shock her son's body was covered in bruises.
"I've never seen bruises that bad before", she said. "They were all over him and really black. It was awful.
"Harry then took me aside and said: "Your son may tell you that I inflicted those bruises on him but it's lies. The kids were playing and that's how he got them.
"I thought straight away that it was a very odd thing to say and wondered if there was a chance he was abusing these boys."
Sue later asked her son how he got the bruises. "He wouldn't tell me. He just refused to talk about it.
"But he never went back to the guild.
"I mentioned my suspicions to my husband but he told me there was nothing to worry about.
"After that I left it. I just felt no-one would believe me, because Harry was so respected in the community."
When Day's sex abuse case was made public she once again questioned her son, now 36, over the bruises.
"He says he doesn't remember anything about it. I don't know if this is true. I doubt I'll ever find out what happened."
But she nonetheless wishes they had gone to the police when she first suspected Day of harming the youngsters.
She says: "I feel terribly guilty. To think of all the boys that I could have stopped from being abused if I'd said something."
"Thankfully some of Harry's victims spoke out in the end, which was extremely brave of them, and he is finally behind bars.
"I hope others who were abused by him, as I'm sure there are others, are encouraged by the guilty verdict and also come forward.