• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Further Notes on the Lies of Wilfred Wong

Sussex Live has some more details about Satanic Ritual Abuse fanatic Wilfred Wong’s explanation for his involvement in a child kidnap conspiracy (previously discussed here):

Wong maintained he travelled by train to Bangor for a short break, to do some walking and enjoy the scenery.

He’d arranged a lift back south with husband and wife Edward and Janet Stevenson, a counsellor from Crawley…

Wong had slept under a tree and then crossed into Anglesey, he said.

Near the Britannia Bridge he found some apparently dumped items including a knife, mask and cable ties.

Having got into the back of the Stevensons’ car, alongside him were two strangers – a woman and child. “I didn’t have any cause for concern,” he remarked.

This, of course, was a pack of lies: Wong owned the kidnap kit items, and he used the knife both to terrorise the child’s foster mother and to slash her tyres. The other woman in the car was already known to him, and was also part of the conspiracy. Wong had plotted the kidnap with the Stevensons and others – his account in court was flatly contradicted by other testimony and forensic evidence, and was so transparent that one wonders why he thought it would do him any good.

Of course, some criminals may tell obvious lies in court out of desperation or simply because dishonesty is a way of life, but in this instance I wonder if the reason was because Wong’s self-regard is so grandiose that he expected to be believed. After all, his outlandish claims about Satanic Ritual Abuse have been taken at face value by evangelicals for years, and in recent months he had been fêted by online conspiracy mongers such as Jon Wedger and Shaun Attwood.

Wong’s lies are also significant, though, in that they make a mockery of his supposedly devout evangelical Christianity. I had every expectation that he would offer a defence of justification, doubling down on his Satanic Ritual Abuse claims. Instead, he threw his co-conspirators under the bus, despite having led them into disaster.

An article on North Wales Live (syndicated from the Daily Post) has further details about testimony from an unnamed Brighton man who was approached by Wong but declined to become involved in the conspiracy. The man’s wife apparently believes she was subjected to Satanic Ritual Abuse as a child, and she had found Wong online:

Barrister Justin Hugheston-Roberts, defending Janet Stevenson, asked him: “Were you or your wife praying for a man that you said was trying to abduct a child?”

The Brighton man said: “She had an emotional relationship with Wilfred and Janet. As time went on, she became more detached from him, and saw things in a different light.”

The barrister, quoting from a statement, asked if he was “praying that prison staff would see what a kind and generous man he (Wong) was”?

The Brighton man said he was not aware of that but it “sounds like my wife. She regarded Wilfred as her godfather.”

The barrister: “Were you concerned at what you perceived to be the influence he was having over her?”

The Brighton man: “After a while, yes.”

The barrister: “She was looking for someone to help her because of the sexual abuse she had suffered as a child and she believed it had been sexual abuse by Satanists?”

“Yes.”

This gives some sense of the group dynamic, and how it was that Wong was able to persuade several mature adults with decades of life experience and previous good character to enter into a self-destructive criminal conspiracy. Had they evaded arrest, they would all have been even more under his power. His paranoid stories of the ubiquity of Satanism remind me of how the conman Robert Hendy-Freegard persuaded a group of people for years that the IRA were after them, as well of a case I encountered in which a man claiming expertise in Islamic extremism persuaded activists to embark on fools’ errands around the country.

The consequences of Wong’s scheming have been grave. First and foremost, of course, a child has been traumatised. However, the Stevensons at their time of life ought to have been looking forward to years of retirement together, rather than public disgrace and lengthy separation in prison. In the case of another couple who were suckered in, the male partner, Robert Frith, died while on remand – he was 65 years old and a retired nurse, and doubtless never imagined ending up in such a place.