A respected member of the West Coast community was a “prolific” abuser, assaulting 11 boys over nearly three decades, a court has heard.

Photo: Sam Strong/Stuff

Eighty-eight-year-old Allan William Walton’s offending spanned a 27-year period. He was sentenced to seven years and two months in jail on Wednesday for 18 charges of sexual abuse, which included sodomy.

His 11 victims were between 10 and 14 years old when offending began.

Most victims were abused for multiple years between 1958 and 1976.

Walton was a swimming and rugby league coach during that time. Most grooming began under the guise of coaching, Greymouth District Court Judge Mark Callaghan said on Wednesday.

The lifelong impact his crimes had on his victims was “irreparable,” the judge said, and had harmed the family and communities around them.

Walton was initially charged with eight sexual offences in July 2022. A public appeal by police led to new information, and by Wednesday’s sentencing he had 18 charges against him.

The lead offences were three counts of sodomy and one of buggery. Walton gave an early guilty plea to all charges.

Callaghan acknowledged Walton for agreeing to delay his sentencing so the public appeal could be made.

Walton’s sentence indication was the maximum of 14 years imprisonment, but he received a 25% discount for an early guilty plea, and an additional 15% discount for his age.

Walton told victim he’d ‘let him go’ when he turned 18

According to the summary of facts, Walton was 24 when he began grooming his first victim, a 10-year-old boy.

He offered to coach the boy in swimming and rugby, guaranteeing he would see him at least twice a week.

Walton introduced the boy to cigarettes, which became their first “secret”, Callaghan said.

Over multiple years, Walton committed up to 40 sexual offences against the boy, up to half of which included sodomy.

That abuse ended in 1962, but the same year Walton met a 13-year-old, to whom he also promised coaching opportunities before abusing him.

Most victims met Walton through coaching, and Walton was said to have manipulated their families into trusting him with the boys, including on overnight or weekend trips.

Walton told one boy he would only “let him go” once he turned 18, which he did.

“I wish my parents told him to go away,” the now-adult victim wrote in a victim impact statement, which was read by a third party in court.

He blamed himself for the abuse he experienced. He could not understand why he got in the car, or why he’d tell people Walton was “my friend” when asked about the relationship.

He remained “a shell of a man” who had never been able to create close male friendships. He said he couldn’t love his sons “as I should”, and that whānau and romantic partners “suffered from my coldness”.

Six of Walton’s victims were 13 when the abuse began. Two were 14, two were 12 and one was 10.

Judge Callaghan said their age “ensured [Walton’s] offending was not uncovered … you’d give them cigarettes and threaten to tell their parents”.

“They didn’t understand what was going on,” he said. He emphasised the abuse was no one’s fault but Walton’s.
‘Times have changed’

In a statement, Detective Senior Sergeant Kirsten Norton acknowledged the public’s help in bringing Walton to justice.

“The investigation has served as a reminder of the importance around ensuring our young people are comfortable and feel safe to come forward with information to people they trust.”.

She said “times have changed” and support was there to be found.

“You can trust that police will take all such reports seriously, offer victims the required support, and work to hold offenders to account.”

By Sinead Gill
Published in Stuff