Emotions ran high Thursday as Mrs. Vanessa George, a 39-year-old nursery worker, charged with abuse of infants, appeared in a court in Plymouth, 300 km from London. A man spat on her while yet others chased the police van carrying the woman, jeering her and banging on the vehicle.
As many as seven charges were read out against perhaps the most scorned woman in the country. The offences include sexual assault by penetration and by touching. One of the victims was a one-year-old girl. Another was an infant boy. Two infant girls were alleged to have been subjected to further assaults.
AdvertisementMrs. George was also charged with making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children.
There were dramatic moments at the court. One young father fled in anguish.
Another followed soon after. Every time a charge was read out, mothers buried their heads in their hands and wept.
Soon, the tears turned to anger and jeering. They screamed her name and demanded that she look them in the face.
Throughout the ten-minute hearing, the woman showed no reaction to the jeering and spoke only once.
She was asked to confirm her address but said she was of no fixed abode.
She stared at the floor without once lifting her head. Her only visible reaction was to close her eyes as the clerk read the charges.
No plea was entered and no application for bail was made. Hilary Anderson, who chaired the bench, remanded Mrs. George in custody until September 21, partly for her own protection.
One man leapt from his seat and spat in her face as she was led in handcuffs to the cells.
Outside the court, several protesters broke through police cordons to bang on the prison van.
About 40 people eventually chased the convoy down the road, hurling water bottles and shouting abuse.
Mrs. Vanessa George was arrested on Monday night after indecent images of children taken at Little Ted's Day Nursery in Plymouth were found on a computer disc seized by police from a suspected paedophile in Manchester.
So far, none of the children has been identified, and the officer leading the investigation said that some of them might never be. Parents of the 64 children, aged between 2 and 5, have been asked to complete a questionnaire and list any features that could help to identify individual children from the images.
Computers and other equipment seized during raids on the nursery, in the grounds of Laira Primary School, and on Mrs George's home are being examined by experts from Devon and Cornwall police.
Chief Superintendent Jim Webster, the police commander for Plymouth, said: "It is a disturbing situation. As we go through the painstaking task of identifying who may be concerned, we are focusing on communication with the families we believe are involved."
Meantime Andrew George, 41, said he and his family were shocked and devastated by the allegations against his wife.
He is under police protection at a safe house after fleeing the family home with his two daughters.
Mr George, who works for a catering equipment firm, later issued a statement through Devon and Cornwall Police.
It said: 'Myself, my two children and family have been shocked by the information and events of the past three days.
'We remain strong as a family and will now await the case to go through the judicial system.
'We have two young children and my paramount concern is to lessen the impact these events have on them.'