Inside sick mind of Plymouth's worst ever paedophile

Referred to as the most prolific paedophile Britain has ever seen, William Goad abused hundreds, perhaps even thousands of boys over nearly four decades and opened Cornwall's leading children's adventure play site before his evil crimes came to light.

Born in 1944, millionaire businessman Goad is reported to have once boasted of beating his own “record" of abusing 142 boys in one year. Victims later revealed that as part of his sick crimes, he threatened some boys into procuring other boys for him to abuse.

From Plymouth, the sick paedophile founded Cornish Market World in Par in 1991, which became at one point Britain's biggest indoor market with more than 300 stalls. He later launched Ben's Playworld, a children's play zone neighbouring the market - both of which are still open to this day under new names and ownership.

Read next:

Student flats plans for former Plymouth nightclub

New Plymouth retro games lounge shaping up to be a mega hit

The adventure park, near St Austell, was extremely popular from the moment of its opening in the 1990s, playing host to children's parties aimed at 2 to 12 year-olds. Its features included mega-slides, giant tubes, a massive ball-pool and later a pirate adventure attraction.

Goad, after decades of abusing boys as young as eight years old, was jailed for life in 2004 after he pleaded guilty to 14 counts of serious sexual assault – now categorised as rape following changes in the law – and two charges of indecent assault. Detectives said Goad would prey on vulnerable young boys and use various techniques to 'groom' them before sexually abusing and raping them.

He would even invite them to his home or offer them well-paid jobs in one of his shops. Victims were often threatened with 'being sorted' with violence if they ever spoke of what had happened. Goad, 60, when he was convicted cheered as he was jailed.

After conviction, staff said he used to spend a lot of time at Ben's Playworld. During the 1970s Goad worked at the dockyard. He later set up his own shops throughout the South West, including two branches of Barbican Discounts in Plymouth.

Some of his victims later claimed Goad sexually abused them at his stores in Plymouth. At least two of Goad's victims later committed suicide while others battled drug abuse and mental illness or turned to crime.

Judge William Taylor, who jailed Goad for life following a trial at Plymouth Crown Court, described him as a "dangerous paedophile" and fixed a determined sentence of six years and two months. He said Goad would "not be released until the authorities are satisfied you pose no risk to anyone, particularly children", but added: “It may well mean in your case that life may mean just that."

The court described him as a “voracious, calculating, predatory and violent homosexual paedophile”. The earliest abuse case city police unearthed dates back to 1964 when Goad was just 19 years old. Goad fled to Thailand in 1998 on a false passport, aware that police were on his tail following new allegations.

He was arrested in June 2003 after returning to the UK on a false passport. Goad was turned down for parole in 2010, having never admitted his guilt. He died of natural causes on October 20, 2012, at HMP Isle of Wight, Albany. He was aged 68 at the time of his death.

Victim Paul Wyatt, who later waived his right to anonymity, said that Goad, who abused him for four years from the age of 12, was part of a "bigger network of paedophiles" which included people in positions of "power and trust". "There are people who have sold their soul to the devil, without a doubt," he said.