Pensioner describes Skegby Hall abuse ordeal

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A pensioner from the Mansfield area has described how he suffered sustained sexual and physical abuse at the hands of care workers at an Ashfield borstal in the early 1960s.

The 66-year-old, who has asked to remain anonymous, said that he was sent Skegby Hall as a 10-year-old after he stole to escape his violent father.

He told Chad that he was targeted by two employees who abused him over a four-year period at Skegby, and said he also experienced sexual abuse at the Ashley House home, near Worksop.

The man contacted Chad after we reported last week how campaigners and politicians are now calling for a full-scale investigation, following numerous complaints over alleged sexual abuse in Nottinghamshire care homes from the early 1950s onwards.

“I was basically my father’s punch bag and I started stealing to get away from him, and eventually I was sent to Skegby Hall,” he said.

“But it was really a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire because there it was even worse than where I’d escaped from.”

He described being regularly abused in a shed by a member of staff at Skegby Hall, while another would come into the room while he was taking a bath and sexually abuse him, he said.

“This has utterly ruined my life - I’ve never properly been able to settle down in a proper relationship, I don’t trust people and I don’t mix very well,” he added.

“I have awful dreams that just reoccur all the time and I’m very short tempered - a lot of my family are in stable, loving relationships, and they haven’t got the faintest idea what happened in my past. All they know is that I was put into a young offenders institute when I was a boy. I just don’t know how to talk about it and I just really don’t know how to get closure.

“This has been with me for 50 years and I’ve never been able to talk to anyone about it.

“When I was at Skegby Hall, I reported what was going on to the headmaster and he just told me to stop being a silly boy, and sent me away.

“They’ve always known about this and they’ve done absolutely nothing - we were in the care of the council and we should have been protected.”

He said that children were also regularly brutalised by staff at Skegby Hall, including a teacher who would beat boys with a cricket bat.

Other victims have also contacted Chad to say they have reported instances of abuse at Ashley House and at Cauldwell House in Southwell.

They also described how, as young children, they had been taken to the former Mapperley Hospital, near Nottingham, for regular electric shock treatment by care home staff.

And despite strenuous efforts to attain documents detailing their time in care, many victims said they had drawn a blank, with records either destroyed or restricted at the National Archive until the year 2055.

Last week, Chad reported how former Forest Town resident Mickey Summers had taken both Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council to task over his own time in care, when he says he was systematically raped and abused.

Mickey (60), who says he was abused during the 1960s and now lives in America, has returned to the UK in a bid for justice.

He told Chad that his childhood records, which he thinks can provide vital evidence of his abuse, have been deliberately destroyed by either the city or county councils – who have both held the documents.

Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale, Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero and Nottinghamshire Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping have all called for a full scale enquiry into the allegations after it emerged that compensation claims have been made by former residents at both Skegby Hall and the former Laybrook home in Mansfield.

Nottinghamshire Police have also been ordered to reinvestigate a formal complaint made by Mickey Summers in 2003 by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which he claims they botched.

A comment issued jointly by Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council said: “The safety and wellbeing of children and young people in our care is our highest priority. We take all allegations of child abuse, current or historic, extremely seriously.

“Investigations surrounding Beechwood and other city and county homes are complex and the police investigation, which began in August 2010, is still under way.

“Both councils are devoting significant resources to it and if wrongdoing is established in the criminal or civil process, we will take appropriate action.

“The City and County Councils have settled 26 civil claims with alleged victims relating to historic physical abuse at children’s residential care homes across Nottinghamshire, without any admission of liability. A number of other claims are ongoing.

“We welcome the Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping’s call for an independent review of historic abuse at these children’s homes between the 1960s to the late 1990s. This was a joint decision reached between the chief executives at the County and City Councils, the PCC and the Chief Constable. The independent review will commence once the active police investigation is complete.

“We believe the independent safeguarding boards are best placed to lead this review and we will ask the boards to scope out the parameters of the review and commission it on our behalf.

“It’s paramount we are transparent and can reassure the public that any claims of this nature are taken seriously and fully investigated.

“We would urge people who have suffered abuse to come forward and make contact with the police. We would like to reassure any victim that they will be listened to and that we will co-operate with any Nottinghamshire Police investigation that results.”

Pressure builds for historic child abuse probe. Full story CLICK HERE

Cover-up allegations of former children’s home resident. Full story CLICK HERE