Pensioner denies Stoke Newington child abuse charges, saying: ‘It was a very different time’

A file image of Snaresbrook Crown Court, where the Stannards are on trial for child abuse. Picture:

A file image of Snaresbrook Crown Court, where the Stannards are on trial for child abuse. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Archive - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

A pensioner on trial for historic child abuse has dismissed the allegations against him, saying: “It was a very different time back then.”

Roy Stannard, 74, and his wife Valerie, 73, have between them been charged with 22 counts of child cruelty and indecent assault.

The allegations date from the 1960s to the 1980s, when the couple lived in Stoke Newington. They relate to five people aged under 16 at the time, and who prosecutor Sally Hales said endured “miserable childhoods”.

Alleged victims have accused Roy of punching them “like a man” and one told jurors how he was hung on the back of a door with a coat hanger put down his jumper by Roy.

But during cross-examination, Roy told prosecutor Sally Hales: “It was a very different time back then. If you gave cheek, you got a clip around the ear.”

His lawyer Michael Hayton, giving his closing speech this afternoon at Snaresbrook Crown Court, said the comment was nothing more than “a little bit surly, a little bit cheeky”, and that Roy was a man of good character.

“Put yourself in his shoes,” he told jurors. “He’s sat and listened to them [the alleged victims] recount stories from a quarter of a century – and much longer – ago. He’s watched his wife of 40 years give evidence for more than two days and he was being examined himself about very serious issues.”

Most Read

Roy is charged with three counts of cruelty to a person under 16, seven counts of indecent assault and two counts of indecency with a child.

Earlier in the trial the court heard how he asked a girl, when she was 11, if he could “touch her”, before groping her and rubbing his penis on her back. He also allegedly asked her to masturbate him. Another victim has also accused Roy of sexually assaulting him.

During his speech, Mr Hayton picked holes in the allegations, which relate to four different people.

“What these four people allege, they are very different,” he said. “Even the sexual offences. Think how different they are. One victim is a boy and one victim a girl. But above and beyond that there are very stark differences in what they allege.”

He said it was easy to think there was “no smoke without fire” but told jurors there were too many discrepancies in the alleged victims’ stories for them to be believed.

“The coat hanger down his back must have happened when he [the alleged victim] was 15,” he said. “Even if he was a small 15-year-old his feet wouldn’t have dangled and he wouldn’t be going blue in the face.”

The trial continues.