A DAD still scarred from years of childhood abuse groomed two teenage girls at a council-run hostel for homeless families.

Peter Maynard was living at Underwood House, Stratton, with his own teen children in 2002 when he started preying on the girls – then aged 13 and 15.

Swindon Crown Court heard the environment at the council flats was dysfunctional, with Maynard’s lawyer comparing it to the hellish scenes drawn by 18th century artist William Hogarth.

The abiding smell at the hostel was cannabis, solicitor Rob Ross said. Adults shared drink and drugs with the children.

Mr Ross told the court: “Places like Underwood House still exist. Places like Underwood House should not exist.”

The case against Peter Maynard

In 2002, Maynard was living at the Swindon Road block with his family.

At the start of the year a 13-year-old girl moved into one of the flats with her dad, a man described as showing little interest in her.

Maynard took an interest in the girl, inviting her to share cannabis and booze. The abuse began in March when Maynard kissed the girl after play fighting with her.

Despite the girl’s young age, Maynard regularly had sex with her – including unprotected sex.

By mid-summer the teenager had moved out to live with her mum. Maynard and the girl spent a night away together alone, prompting the police to be called out. He instructed the youngster to tell police she was going out with his son.

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Peter Maynard outside Swindon Crown Court

He then began a relationship with another girl, then 15, after sharing cannabis with her at Underwood House.

She said she “liked being treated like a grown-up”.

The pair had unprotected sex, but the girl was so worried she might fall pregnant that on one occasion she took a pregnancy test.

Maynard would pick her up from a work experience placement. He was described by his victim as having a high sex drive.

The abuse lasted for six months and continued even after the girl was moved to new accommodation.

Prosecuting, Mary Aspinall-Miles said the older girl’s mum had ignored the abuse: “There was a rather dysfunctional parenting situation.

“She, the victim, said her mother knew about the relationship. Clearly, a blind eye was being turned.”

Victims speak out

Both girls told detectives they felt they were to blame for what had happened.

In an interview detailing the impact on her and summarised for the court by Ms Aspinall-Miles, the younger girl said Maynard had made her feel safe and “rather sadly” made her feel loved.

“She now describes it as rather than being the hugs and comfort she was looking for from an adult, he used her,” the barrister said.

Now in her early 30s, the woman said she felt angry and ashamed. The abuse had affected her trust in others.

She wanted Maynard to acknowledge what he had done and apologise.

Ms Aspinall-Miles said: “There’s the signs that she was blamed and that she blamed herself for allowing herself to be in that situation when she was a 13-year-old child.”

But Judge Peter Crabtree was clear when he told Maynard as he was being sentenced: “There is of course only one person to blame in this case and that is you.”

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Underwood House, Stratton

The older victim said in her interview with detectives that when police first contacted her she was surprised as she didn’t think what had happened was wrong.

Ms Aspinall-Miles said: “As time has gone on and she allowed time to process and consider it she knew that it was wrong and he had taken advantage of her.”

The woman described herself at that age as “another messed up child”.

Maynard made her feel secure, she said.

But she believes the abused has affected her relationships she has had since and has ruined her trust in others.

When Maynard was first interviewed about the allegations by police he denied being involved in relationships with the two girls.

He gave a detailed account, effectively denying the women’s claims. He told police he didn’t understand why the girls had said what they had because “nothing’s ever happened. “

He said: “I would never do that and anybody who knows me knows I would never do that.”


The 51-year-old, of Hatch Road, Stratton, admitted eight counts of indecent assault and indecency against a child.

He was sentenced to a total of four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.

Jailing him, Judge Crabtree said Maynard had groomed the teenagers, preparing each girl for sexual exploitation.

“You gained their trust by being friendly, inviting them round to share drink and drugs,” he said.

The judge stopped short of ruling Maynard to be a dangerous offender, which would have meant he’d have to serve at least two thirds of his prison sentence.

He acknowledged there was no evidence Maynard had committed offences against pubescent and teenage girls since 2002 and said he would be subject to a lengthy custodial sentence and stringent conditions.

Maynard will be subject to a 10 year sexual harm prevention order banning him from contact with teen girls under under the age of 16.

He was told he will be required to sign on to the sex offenders’ register for life.

'Places like Underwood House should not exist'

IT IS a vision of Hell that we can little understand. A baby falls from the arms of her gin-soaked mother. Another pours the clear liquor into her babe’s gaping mouth.

The vision is William Hogarth’s.

The 18th century artist’s engravings Bear Street and Gin Lane were published in 1751 and served as a comment on the evils of gin compared to beer.

They are a depiction of men and women ravaged by their addiction to the strong liquor, pawning their belongings, neglecting their children and abandoning their jobs.

It was to William Hogarth that paedophile Peter Maynard’s lawyer Rob Ross turned in an effort to explain just how dysfunctional Swindon council’s Underwood House was in the early 2000s when his client’s family was placed there by the borough.

The collection of 20 flats was built to house families who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Mr Ross initially compared it to Dante Alighieri’s poetic masterpiece Hell.

“It’s not quite the sort of vision Dante was talking about but it’s not far short of a Hogarth etching in terms of -depravity is a strong word,” he said.

“This was a terrible environment for everyone.”

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Underwood House, Stratton

The lawyer said his client and the teen girls on whom he preyed were living in a completely dysfunctional environment, overseen by people who were not taking much notice of what was happening.

“What we read in this case suggests there was not that much involvement of social services within or with people who were in Underwood House,” Mr Ross said.

“Places like Underwood House still exist. Places like Underwood House should not exist.

“What we know now we didn’t know then when it’s set up.

“It is quite apparent that what was going on within, what was known now to go on at Underwood House was utterly dysfunctional. We’ve got dysfunctional people. That’s why they’re there,” he told the court.

He added: “Cannabis was probably the prevailing smell in Underwood House at the time because everyone in there was using it and there doesn’t appear to have been any boundaries.

“This is a place where people were living very much without boundaries.”

Council responds

Responding to the comments, a spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said: “We are shocked and saddened that this abuse took place.

“The description of Underwood House at that time is not one we recognise and we were not aware of any of the incidents until they recently came to light.

“We have strict safeguarding arrangements in place and the safety of our clients in supported housing schemes such as this is of paramount importance to us.

“Allegations are taken very seriously and escalated using the thorough processes available to us.”

Paedophile suffered abuse himself, court told

Peter Maynard had himself experienced horrific childhood abuse at the hands of his father, Swindon Crown Court heard.

The 51-year-old was sexually and physically abused by the beast, who died before the shocking ordeal to which he subjected Maynard and his siblings came to light.

Rob Ross, defending, said: “What happened to this man should never have happened to him and it should never happen to anyone.

“This happened to him over 40 years ago and he lives with it every day.”

According to a psychiatric report, the abuse had affected Maynard’s ability to form relationships.

“He has a very distorted view of intimacy and relationships and it’s fundamentally affected his ability to form and maintain healthy relationships.”

Maynard had grown up in an environment that would be entirely alien to the average adult, Swindon Crown Court heard.

Mr Ross described his client as a damaged man.

“He was in his own way vulnerable. He was someone who was damaged and someone who was looking for affection,” Mr Ross said.

“Frankly, the only way he knew how to get affection and get comfort was through sex and that isn’t surprising bearing in mind how he was abused as a child.”

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Peter Maynard

He added: “There is no suggestion on behalf of this defendant that what he did is forgiven in any way by the abuse that he himself suffered.

“He’s not using that as an excuse [for abusing his two teenaged victims].

“He’s not trying to hide behind anything.

“He accepts that what he did was wrong.

“It’s clear, having read his very lengthy medical notes that that disclosure by this man of his own childhood abuse had been made many, many years ago and was seen as a reason for the ongoing psychological problems he’s experienced for many years,” he said.

The two-year police investigation had had a significant impact on Maynard, worsening his already fragile mental health.

He had become isolated and had also self-harmed. Maynard spoke to few except for his former partner and his children.

He suffered from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sentencing him to four years and six months imprisonment, Judge Peter Crabtree ordered a copy of the reports prepared for the court hearing should be sent with Maynard to jail.