A FORMER house warden at a care home was this week convicted of physically and sexually abusing a young boy.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court took less than three hours on Tuesday to find Thomas Lees, aged 68, of West Drive, Clayton-le-Woods, guilty of one charge of indecent assault and one of child cruelty. They also cleared him of three charges of indecently assaulting another boy and three charges of cruelty to a third boy.

Lees, who had denied all eight charges, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.

Judge Denis Clark told white-haired Lees: "When you sexually or physically abuse a child you set in place an emotional time bomb which can explode at any time in the future and risk starting a cycle of events over which they have no control." He told Lees that he deserved a prison sentence but he was suspending it because of the exceptional circumstances including the fact the offences happened more than 20 years ago, his age, ill health and the recent death of his wife. During the five-day trial Trevor Parry-Jones, prosecuting, said that Lees had been employed to work at the Merseyside home, which cannot be named for legal reasons.

The offences allegedly occurred between 1975, and 1980, when the boys were aged between 10 and 15-years-old and resident at the home.

The victim, who Lees was convicted of abusing, told how he indecently assaulted him when he was about 14-years-old after taking him to his office to tell him off about his behaviour. He pulled the boy's trousers down and indecently assaulted him and when the boy began to cry Lees told him to shut up and that no-one would believe him.

Lees has no other convictions and spent two decades working with children.