‘Essex Investigator’ on bringing paedophile Harry Day, who preyed on Dagenham boys, to justice

The Essex Investigator (picture: Ellie Hoskins)

The Essex Investigator (picture: Ellie Hoskins) - Credit: Archant

In the wake of the Jimmy Savile revelations and other high-profile historic sexual abuse cases, it is now more feasible the famous will be brought to account – but five years ago Dagenham was stunned when well-respected Harry Day MBE was jailed on paedophilia charges.

Flashback to Day's conviction in 2009

Flashback to Day's conviction in 2009 - Credit: Archant

Sam Blewett spoke to the man who helped break the case open.

The Post found the Essex Investigator – a name he uses for fear of reprisals – in the back of a shabby-looking van covered in builder’s branding.

But appearances can be deceptive.

The investigator was in the midst of a 16-hour surveillance session. And that “builder’s” van contains £70,000 of equipment, including seven CCTV cameras that spy on the outside world.

“A guy came to us with historic child abuse claims,” the investigator said. “He had been abused as a child and he believed others had been too.

“We spent six months chasing everyone who had ever been at this huge organisation [the Young Citizens Guild] and we managed to locate potential victims.

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“I tracked down every person who’d been to the club since it was started in 1957.

“We found these people right across Europe. Some of the alleged victims had gone as far as Australia.”

The offender was Harry Day, of North Walsham, Norfolk – and in 2009, he was jailed for 13 years on child abuse charges.

The crimes related to eight boys, including some from Dagenham, who went to the Young Citizens Guild summer camps in Hemsby, Norfolk, between 1973 and 1995.

Day was convicted of 18 charges of indecent assault, two of incitement and one of perverting the course of justice after allegedly contacting a witness during the case.

He denied all the charges.

Judge Simon Barham, who presided over Day’s trial, said when passing sentence, that the offender was systematic, carefully choosing his victims. Often they were vulnerable.

After the trial the first victim to come forward spoke of how his life was ruined.

He told reporters he had alcohol and drug problems and his marriage had failed as he struggled to cope with what had been done to him.

Day started the youth group with the aim of helping children become responsible members of society, and he was courted by both police chiefs and royalty.

It’s hardly surprising the victim did not come forward sooner – but if he hadn’t the truth may never have seen the light of day.

This isn’t uncommon in the Essex Investigator’s line of work.

“We often do criminal stuff where the police may have failed,” he said, “or they might have a lack of resources.”

He thinks the Day case had widespread implications.

“Not long after that we heard about Jimmy Savile and the others,” he said. “I believe that was linked.

“It was the first time we had a person who was an MBE involved in child abuse.

“As long as that guy’s rotting in prison, I’m happy.”

So how did the investigator end up with his gadgets and his builder’s van?

“I started off when I left school,” he said. “The only thing I knew how to do was steal cars so I started up a business repossessing them.

“Part of repossessing vehicles is having to find them, so I got good at finding people and following them back to their cars.

“But after that I was being asked: ‘Can you find this person or that person?’. Soon it evolved to what I do now.”

That work doesn’t just involve bringing paedophiles to justice. The investigator’s day-to-day work sees him busting cheating partners, benefit fraudsters and boardroom spies.

So if this is you, beware – the Essex Investigator may already be on your case.

• For more information go to www.essexinvestigator.co.uk.