The Glam Rock Paedophile
"I will continue to rock 'n' roll"
During the 1970’s and 80’s, British glam rocker Gary Glitter gained success with his his single “Rock and Roll,” competing for chart dominance against other well established bands such as Slade, Sweet and T-Rex.
But behind the stage persona that was Glitter, hid a truth that no-one could imagine. His status as a rocker icon came crashing down in 1997, when he was found to have been one of the most prolific of sex offenders.
Born Paul Gadd, Glitter began performing at London clubs at a young age, where his act consisted of early rock and rolls numbers and gentle ballads. He released a single in January 1960, at the age of 15, under the name Paul Raven.
He spent the next few years with different bands, touring the UK and parts of Europe and releasing various singles, some of which were performed under the name Paul Monday. He also did numerous television commercials and film auditions.
In July 1963, Gadd married Ann Murton, and the following year the couple had a son, also called Paul, as well as a daughter, Sarah in 1966. Gadd and Murton divorced in 1972. It is unknown if he entered into another relationship.
With the advent of Glam Rock in 1971, Gadd reinvented himself as Gary Glitter. The song that defined his career was recorded during a 15-minute jam session. Rock and Roll – Part 2 was released in 1972, and proved popular in many countries.
Over the next three years, Glitter followed it with other successful singles such as “I’m the Leader of the Gang” and “I Love You Love Me Love”. Despite his popularity in the UK, Glitter never managed to gain success in America, where glam rock never gained anything more than curiosity at the time.
By 1976, his music sales began to decline, and he spent a two-year period of self exile, living between France and Australia before returning to the UK to stage his comeback. However, by 1977, Gadd declared bankruptcy.
His financial difficulties extended into the 1980’s. It was only his influence on post-punk, Britpop, new wave and glam metal scene that helped him launch a greatest hits album in 1981. This comeback was boosted by various guest spots and collaborations.
He opened a restaurant in Leicester Square in 1991, known as Gary’s Glitter Bar, which was promoted under the slogan “Leader of the Snack.” but closed down shortly after. Glitter spent the next decade performing live shows, and living off the earnings of his back catalogue.
His best-selling autobiography, The Leader, was published in 1991, and the following year he was the subject of an episode of This Is Your Life. During the episode, Glitter’s friend Tessa Dahl appears to make an uncomfortable statement.
She said, “Gary actually came to live in my house when he was between jobs … My sister Lucy turned it into quite a successful venture because she used to pack the train full of her adolescent school friends in school uniforms and then skive school.”
“And she’d bring them up to the house and charge them five pounds a head to come and gaze at Glitter,” she adds, as Glitter can be seen putting his fingers to his lips and telling Dahl to “shush” as she begins to talk about the adolescent girls.
The Secret Sex Offender
In November 1997, Glitter sent his laptop to a computer retailer in Bristol for repairs. When the technician began working on the device, he discovered pornographic images of children on the hard drive.
During a subsequent search of his homes in London and Somerset by police, further images were discovered. Once the media learned of this, Glitter became reviled by the nation, as details of the accusations spread across the front pages.
At the conclusion of the police investigation, Glitter appeared at Bristol Crown Court on November 12, 1999. There, Glitter was sentenced by Mr Justice Butterfield to four months in prison. He was also placed on the sex offender register in the UK after admitting to downloading more than 4,000 items of child pornography.
Glitter was cleared of a charge of having sex with a 14-year-old girl, with whom he had a relationship in the late 1970s. This woman had sold her story to the News of the World and it was later revealed that she stood to earn more money from the newspaper should Glitter be convicted.
After his released in January 2000, Glitter made the decision to leave Britain, owing to the fact he had become a public hate figure for his crimes. He fled to Spain where he lived on his yacht for six months.
He later moved to Cuba and again to Cambodia, where he rented an apartment in Phnom Penh. By late 2002, he was arrested over his previous sex offences and spent several days in jail before being released. Glitter was deported from Cambodia in January 2003, and ended up in Thailand, before settling in Vietnam.
Crimes in Vietnam
There he resided in a rented luxury seaside villa in Vũng Tàu and applied for permanent Vietnamese residency. Later that same year, Glitter came to the attention of Vietnamese authorities after he was banned from a nightclub.
He was accused of allegedly groping a teenage waitress, while witnesses came forward to say they saw the singer take two young girls into his home. He fled his home on November 12, 2005, and when police raided the property, they found a 15-year-old girl living there.
Wanted by police, Glitter was arrested on November 20th at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, as he attempted to board a flight to Bangkok. Subsequently six Vietnamese girls and women, aged from 11 to 23, came forward to claim that Glitter had had sex with them.
Held in jail on suspicion of having sex with two underage girls, Glitter admitted that an 11-year-old girl had slept in his bed, and the charge of rape was dropped for lack of evidence. If found guilty of child rape, Glitter would have faced execution by firing squad.
The families of the girls received compensatory payments from Glitter, and appealed for clemency on his behalf. Found guilty of committing obscene acts with two girls, one aged 10, the other 11, on March 3, 2006, Glitter was sentenced to three years in prison.
Judge Hoàng Thanh Tùng said: “He sexually abused and committed obscene acts with children many times in a disgusting and sick manner.” Glitter protested his innocence and claimed he had been framed by the British tabloid press.
In May 2006, Glitter was interviewed by BBC News and denied that he was a paedophile and claimed not to have knowingly had sex with anyone under the age of 18. He shared his belief that upon his release, he could resume his career after leaving prison in England.
During the interview, Glitter continued to blame the press for his imprisonment, but failed to mention the fact he had been convicted for downloading child pornography. The following month, Glitter’s appeal was heard before a panel of judges.
Four weeks later, it was unanimously rejected. Angry at the decision, Glitter denounced Vietnamese justice upon leaving the courthouse. Then, on February 7, 2007, his sentence was reduced by three months.
Glitter served his sentence at the Thủ Đức Prison in southern Bình Thuận province, where he shared a cell with eighteen other foreign inmates. Due to his age, he was exempted from hard labour, and suffered from high blood pressure.
In January 2008, he was treated in the prison clinic for intestinal problems, and was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. Later that month he suffered a heart attack and collapsed in his cell.
He received treatment and was visited by officials of the British embassy. He spoke about his plans once he was released. His Vietnamese lawyer said his client expressed interest in moving to either Hong Kong or Singapore.
In anticipation of his release, the Philippines barred Glitter from entering that country as of 16 May 2008. In the UK, it was reported the then British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith would place Glitter on the Sex Offenders Register on his return.
She also said Glitter should be given should be given a Foreign Travel Order (FTO) banning him from overseas travel: “We need to control him, and he will be [controlled] once he returns to this country.
The Daily Telegraph reported on June 25, 2008, that Glitter planned to record a new album after his release. He was quoted as saying: “I have an incomplete album that I want to finish. I have been thinking about the plan during my days in jail. I have sung rock ‘n’ roll for 40 years. After jail, I will continue to rock ‘n’ roll.”
Release and Return to the UK
Gary Glitter was released on August 19, 2008, and under police guard was escorted to Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City and put on a flight to London via Bangkok. Upon arrival, he refused to board the flight.
Claiming he had tinnitus and a heart condition, Glitter was diagnosed by an attending doctor with costochondritis, and prescribed him painkillers, but ultimately he was declared fit for travel. Glitter continued to refuse to leave.
He then booked himself into a transit lounge room and claimed he was a “free man.” Thailand refused his admission as a threat to domestic morality, and he given a deadline by Thai immigration officials to leave the country, and warned that he would be detained and deported to the UK if he did not leave voluntarily.
On the evening of 20 August, Glitter took a flight to Hong Kong, and there requested medical treatment, claiming that he was suffering a heart attack. He was refused admission by the Hong Kong authorities and returned to Thailand the next day.
In all, at least nineteen countries, including Cambodia and Cuba, announced that they would refuse entry to the former Glam Rock singer. On August 21st, the Thai authorities stated that Glitter had agreed to return to the UK.
He arrived at Heathrow Airport on August 22, 2008 at 7:10am, and was met by officers of the British police force. Glitter was added to the Sex Offenders Register for life. He stated an intention to appeal against this decision, but on January 16, 2009, it was announced that he had abandoned the appeal.
Saville Connection and Conviction
Further allegations came to light in October 2012, when ITV aired the documentary The Other Side of Jimmy Savile as part of its Exposure series. This show looked at the claims of sexual misconduct against Savile, who had died the previous year.
Among the many accounts were accusations against Gary Glitter, who it was claimed had allegedly raped a 13-to-14-year-old girl. The attack happened inside Savile’s BBC dressing room. Later that month, on October 28th, Glitter was arrested.
Questioned by police as part of Operation Yewtree, a far-reaching investigation into historical sex crimes. Released on police bail until mid-December, Glitter was bailed again until February.
On June 5, 2014, Glitter was charged with eight counts of sexual offences committed between 1977 and 1980 against two girls aged 12–14. He appeared before Southwark Crown Court in January 2015, accused of a litany of crimes.
These included seven counts of indecent assault, one count of attempted rape, and two other sexual offences against three girls between 1975 and 1980. Two of the charges related to the sexual assault of two girls aged 12 and 13.
These young victims were invited backstage to his dressing room, where he attempted to rape a girl under the age of 10 after having crept into her bed. The trial lasted two and a half weeks, and on February 5, 2015, Glitter was found guilty.
These charges comprised attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault, and one of having sex with a girl under the age of 13. Of the three other counts he was acquitted. Glitter was remanded into custody at HM Prison Wandsworth to await sentencing.
On February 27, 2015, Gary Glitter aka Paul Gadd, was sentenced by Judge Alistair McCreath to 16 years in prison. He launched an appeal against his convictions in May that same year, which was later denied by the Court of Appeal in November 2015.
It ruled there was nothing unsafe about Glitter’s conviction. It was announced that same month that Glitter’s appearances on the highly popular BBC show Top of the Pops would not be reshown, along with those existing episodes that feature Jimmy Savile.
Incarcerated at HM Prison Albany from 2015 to 2018, Glitter was later transferred to a lower security facility at HM Prison The Verne. The once Rock and Roll icon turned sex criminal will be eligible for released as early as 2023.