A pervert involved in “ritualistic” sexual abuse of children as part of a witches' coven has failed in a bid to challenge his convictions.

Peter Helmut Petrauske was jailed for 18 years at Truro Crown Court in December 2012, after being found guilty of indecent assault, aiding and abetting an attempt to rape and rape.

The 74-year-old, of Falmouth, yesterday (Tuesday) launched an attempt to have his convictions overturned at London's Criminal Appeal Court.

He maintained his denials, saying he had never had any sexual interest in children and argued that evidence of his “bad character” should not have been disclosed to jurors at his trial, as it was “prejudicial” to his defence.

But his appeal was rejected by three of the country's top judges, who said his trial was fair and his convictions “safe.”

Petrauske and his accomplice, 71-year-old Jack Kemp, also of Falmouth, were said to have worn ceremonial robes and had pagan paraphernalia when they abused girls in Cornwall during the 1970s.

Petrauske described himself as the high priest of a white witches' coven in St Ives, west Cornwall.

The men's victims gave evidence during their three-week trial, describing how they had been abused by their tormentors, before being given money and sweets to keep quiet.

Kemp was also found guilty of indecent assault and indecency with a child, and was jailed for 14 years.

In documents sent by Petrauske to the Appeal Court, he accepted he was a pagan, but denied that children were present at ritual events he attended and said he was not guilty of any sexual impropriety towards youngsters.

He argued jurors should not have heard evidence that he “boasted” to one witness about sexual activity with girls as young as nine when he was in the Merchant Navy.

Insisting he did not receive a fair trial, he claimed prosecution evidence indicating he had a sexual interest in children created “overwhelming prejudice.”

But, dismissing his appeal, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said there were no arguable grounds for challenging the jury's verdicts.

All the evidence against Petrauske had been fairly admitted and the trial judge made no error when directing the jurors.

Sitting with Lord Justice Pitchford and Judge Eleri Rees, the judge concluded: “This application for permission to appeal is refused.”