Posted By: September 28, 2023





Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

UNFORGOTTEN | Lost boys: Mystery disappearance of Belfast kids linked to Kincora pedo ring

Harrowing cases of missing children are pushed back under spotlight by film


Ciaran O’Neill. Sunday World. Belfast. Thursday, September 28, 2023.

Time is running out to uncover the full horror of the child abuse which happened at the Kincora boys home in Belfast.

That’s the stark warning from the makers of a new documentary which links the “forgotten” disappearance of four young boys to a pedophile ring which operated from the notorious care home.

“Lost Boys: Belfast’s Missing Children’” explores the mystery behind the boys’ disappearance in the 1960s and 1970s.

Evidence revealed in the documentary suggests they were abducted by members of the Kincora pedophile ring – many of whom are now dead.

At least 29 boys were abused at the east Belfast home – which was demolished last year – from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Three members of staff at Kincora – William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains – were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys

However, it is believed the full truth of the horrific crimes committed within the home – and by those associated with it – has still to be told.

Earlier this year, in an interview with the Sunday World, former Kincora resident Arthur Smyth claimed he was sexually abused in the home in 1977 when he was just 11. He said the perpetrator was the Queen’s cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten.

It is alleged British intelligence services protected those involved in the abuse at Kincora because some were MI5 agents.

Des Henderson, the writer and director of the Lost Boys documentary, is now working on another film into the Kincora scandal.

“Kincora is a much bigger story and deserves a feature length documentary of its own,” he said.

“I would say we have around 300 hours of interviews and witness statements from people who are no longer with us.”

He is hoping the Lost Boys documentary will help uncover more evidence.

“I am already seeing comments from the trailer on Facebook from people who potentially might have new information so I am hoping when people see this film, new information might come out, even 50 years later.

“It is very hard to penetrate this kind of stuff, but this might just spark a memory for someone.

“I think it is really important we get these testimonies before people die.”

The ‘Lost Boys’ documentary, which will be premiered in Dublin and Belfast in the coming days, sheds new light on one of the darkest chapters of Northern Ireland’s recent history.

Friends Thomas Spence, 11, and John Rodgers, 13, were last seen together at a bus stop on the Falls Road in Belfast on November 26, 1974. Five years earlier, in the east of the city, friends David Leckey, 12, and Jonathan Aven, 14, disappeared.

There have been no traces of the boys since – but they are all believed to have been abducted for a “sexual motive” and then killed, according to a criminologist who studied the cases for the new documentary.

Their disappearances have also been linked to the murder of 11-year-old Brian McDermott in Belfast in 1973. Brian’s burnt and mutilated body was found in a sack in the River Lagan.

In 2001, extensive searches were carried out at two houses in Rodney Drive in west Belfast in connection with the disappearance of Thomas and John.

However, nothing was found and no-one has ever been charged in connection with the disappearance of any of the boys or Brian McDermott’s murder.

Between 1969 and 1974, more than 1,000 people were killed in the Troubles. In the midst of this horror, the boys’ disappearance received little media attention.

Henderson said the boys and their families had been “failed by the state”.

“Even now, if you go on the PSNI’s missing persons website, none of the boys are listed. They have been completely forgotten about,” he said.

“The boys’ families were scratching around in the dirt looking for any kinds of leads and I felt if we could get the film funded, we could put some resources behind this and try to figure out what happened.”

The investigation carried out by those involved in the documentary, which was co-produced by investigative journalist Chris Moore, soon led down a dark path. The film looks at the evidence and the various theories surrounding the missing boys – and it all leads to one place.

“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind the disappearance of the boys is linked to Kincora,” said Henderson.

“Kincora was dealt with by the state in 1981 when they locked up three people. The only reason they did that was because it was brought to light in the Irish Independent.

“What we have uncovered and what the evidence proves is that the police, MI5 and the state knew what was happening at Kincora from the mid-60s.

“But they would not allow individual intelligence officers who came across it to investigate because William McGrath and others were state agents. ​

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) was set up to investigate child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1995.

The inquiry concluded the abuse at Kincora was limited to the actions of the three convicted staff members and did not take place with the collusion of the state or intelligence services.

However, contributors to the new documentary argue the HIAI’s powers were “not far-reaching enough” to get to the “truth.”

We have amassed hundreds of pages of documents that prove the links between the people who were convicted for Kincora and others involved in the pedophile ring,” said Ed Stobart, producer of the documentary.

The “Lost Boys’ ” documentary will be shown in Belfast and Dublin in the coming days

“Lost Boys: Belfast’s Missing Children” will be shown at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin and at the Odeon Cinema in Belfast.