Peter Solheim was part of 'witches coven', abuse trial told
Murdered "black witch" Peter Solheim was involved in a child abuse gang which used daggers and gowns to further terrify their young victims, a court has heard.
Solheim was named during the trial of two men accused of a string of sexual offences dating back to the 1970s.
The 56-year-old parish councillor's body was found five miles off the Lizard peninsula, Cornwall, in 2004. He had been drugged and mutilated by a machete or an axe. His partner, Margaret James, was jailed for 20 years in 2006 for plotting the brutal killing after becoming jealous when Solheim had an affair, though her accomplices have yet to be caught.
Peter Petrauske and Jack Kemp are accused of having been involved with Solheim and others in a pagan group from the 1970s onwards, in which children said they were plied with alcohol before being made to undress in front of a crowd of men wearing robes.
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The victims were then abused by their tormentors, before being given money and sweets to buy their silence, Truro Crown Court was told.
But counsel for the duo yesterday told the jury that 72-year-old Petrauske and Kemp, 69, played no part in the abuse.
Sean Brunton, defending Petrauske, compared his client with being the victim of "a witch-hunt".
He told the jury how "medieval justice" was used to torture and kill people who behaved strangely or differently as soon as others began to point the finger of accusation.
Mr Brunton said: "Don't fall into the trap of thinking, 'Who does he (Petrauske) think he is? He's obviously a weirdo'. While those who don't follow the crowd are criticised, it's not yet illegal to be a weirdo."
Jo Martin, defending Kemp, said the case against her client was one of "no smoke without fire", after the jury had been told of Kemp's previous convictions for sexual offences several decades ago.
She added: "You cannot convict someone solely on previous behaviour or his associations. That would be entirely wrong."
Prosecutor Jason Beal said the duo "used the cloak of paganism" to commit offences against children. He said Kemp had "put up a number of explanations" for him being linked to the case, but added: "They're nothing more than diversions, nothing more than red herrings. They're done in a desperate attempt to try and explain away the unexplainable."
The trial continues today.