A former staff member at a Test Valley children’s home has been jailed today for 15 years for child sex offences committed in the 1980s.

Willy John Gillham, 64, of Rue des Fours Ecoine, Deux-Sèvres, France, was found guilty of four counts of serious sexual offences against a boy under the age of 16, following a jury trial at Southampton Crown Court.

The court heard that Gillham had committed offences including rape and indecent assault at the former Palmerston House children’s home on Botley Road, Romsey.

The home had already closed down prior to the Hampshire Constabulary investigation called Operation Marmion.

Following the hearing, Operation Marmion’s detective inspector Toby Elcock said: "To come forward and speak to police more than 30 years after being subjected to such a horrific level of offending takes remarkable bravery and courage.

“I have great admiration for the victim who helped bring this man to justice, and I hope this encourages other members of the community who have suffered in silence to make that step in speaking to our detectives.”

Gillham will serve a minimum of seven years before being considered for parole.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Gillham’s victim was in a setting which should have been entirely safe. Instead they were betrayed in the worst possible way by someone who should have been protecting them from harm.

“His victim may have waited a long time for justice but it is in part thanks to their bravery that Gillham was brought before the courts, solid proof that it is never too late to speak out about past abuse.

“Sexual abuse ruins childhoods and the devastating effects can last into adulthood without the right support. We hope the victim in this case has received the available help so they can move forward with their lives.”

Today’s hearing follows a significant investigation conducted as part of Operation Marmion - Hampshire Constabulary's ongoing review of non-recent Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and abuse cases. 

Previous victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and abuse, or anyone with information, can contact Operation Marmion detectives at Hampshire Constabulary's Southern Training Headquarters at Netley by phoning 101 or calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.