Monday 3 March 2014

Haut De La Garenne

The Jersey Accommodation and Activity Centre is a building in Saint MartinJersey, in the Channel Islands. It was formerly known as the Industrial School, the Jersey Home for Boys, and Haut de la Garenne. Its previous uses have included being an industrial school, a children's home, a military signal station, a television filming location, and a youth hostel. In 2008 it became the focus of the largest investigation into child abuse ever conducted in Jersey.

It started in the spring of 2007. Formerly, a social worker, Simon Bellwood had made a complaint about a "'Dickensian' system" where children as young as 11 were routinely locked up for 24 hours or more in solitary confinement in a secure unit where he worked.[1] The wider investigation into child abuse over several decades became public in November that year. It received international attention when police moved into Haut de la Garenne, then being used as a youth hostel.


A wide-ranging government investigation into child abuse had begun in 2006, and escalated into a States of Jersey Police investigation in 2007 during which witness evidence repeatedly indicated Haut de la Garenne, which housed up to 60 children at any one time,[2] to be one of the places where abuse took place.[3]
There was widespread media coverage as forensic teams conducted searches in the building between the end of February 2008 and July 2008.[4]
An initial finding of a fragment of what was believed to be a child's skull was widely publicised, but forensic tests later confirmed that the finding was irrelevant.[5] It later transpired that the forensic team had informed the police prior to the announcement of the discovery of supposed human remains that the item might predate the inquiry timeframe, being from infill from a graveyard or of prehistoric origin.[6] In February 2009 States of Jersey Police sent the fragment to Kew Gardens in the UK for testing. In May 2009 the Kew experts[7] stated that the fragment was a piece of endocarp of Cocos nucifera, thereby confirming that the fragment was a piece of coconut.[8]
By the end of the excavations and investigations at Haut de la Garenne in July 2008,[4] police had sifted over 150 tonnes of earth. 65 human milk teeth were found, coming from between 10 to 65 individuals aged between 6–12 years and generally seeming to have been shed naturally. Discounting a large quantity of animal bones, only three bone fragments (the largest 25 mm = 1 inch long) were identified as possibly human; two of them have been dated to a range from 1470 to 1650 and the other 1650 to 1950.[9]

Change of investigation team[edit]

In September 2008, Detective Superintendent Mick Gradwell of Lancashire Police took over as Senior Investigating Officer in the abuse enquiry.[10] In August 2008 David Warcup, Deputy Chief Constable of Northumbria Police, took over as Deputy Chief Officer of the States of Jersey Police. The new team launched a review of the investigation to date.
In November 2008, the Deputy Chief Officer, David Warcup, expressed "much regret" that misleading information had been released throughout the conduct of the enquiry, although this has been bitterly contested. Warcup stated that there was "no evidence" of any child murders at Haut de la Garenne, although the Sunday Times and other media have pointed out that the original investigation had also made this point, nor was there any indication that bodies may have been destroyed at the property. He said that initial reports of blood spots, secret underground chambers, mysterious pits, and metal restraint shackles, were all innocuous or misidentified.[11]
In March 2008, BBC television personality Jimmy Savile started legal proceedings against The Sun newspaper which had, wrongly he claimed, linked him in several articles to the child abuse scandal at Haut de la Garenne.[12] Savile initially denied visiting Haut de la Garenne, but later admitted that he had done so, following the publication of a photograph showing him at the home surrounded by children.[13] The States of Jersey Police said that in 2008 an allegation of an indecent assault by Savile at the home in the 1970s had been investigated, but there had been insufficient evidence to proceed.[14] After his death, hundreds of people from all over the UK came forward to accuse him of past abuse. Several people from Haut de la Garenne also came forward at this time.[15][16]
In 2012 the deceased actor Wilfrid Brambell was accused of abusing in the 1970s two boys aged 12–13 in Jersey. One of the boys was from the Haut de la Garenne children's home.[17]


Jersey Police have so far recorded claims of abuse from 100 people.[18] The police investigated 18 key suspects in the wider investigation,[19] but the Attorney General stated in 2009 that a significant number of these complaints were unsuitable for the criminal courts, including "being made to take cold showers, being clipped around the ear, slapped about the head and flicked with a wet towel".[20] Arrests and charges have been made[21] and as of August 2009 the investigation continues. However the police have stated that there will not be the number of prosecutions which were originally reported, and Detective Superintendent Gradwell stated in August 2009 that the problems with the handling of the inquiry before he took over had "generated a very high level of expectation among complainants and the public" that "a large number of people would be prosecuted".[22] Out of six files received by the prosecution lawyers in August 2008, charges were laid in respect of three of them and it was concluded by June 2009 that no charges would be brought in respect of the remaining three for "legal and evidential reasons" as explained by the Attorney General.[23] Detective Superintendent Gradwell stated in August 2009 that all the police officers from the UK working with the States police had agreed with decisions made by the Attorney General, lawyers and the independent legal team about cases submitted for prosecution, but that "a few more people are likely to be charged".[22] On 27 February 2010 a married couple from Scotland were charged with a number of common assaults on children while they were working at Haut de la Garenne in the 1970s and 1980s.[24]


In May 2009, Michael Aubin, then 46, admitted[25] in the Royal Court of Jersey to two counts of gross indecency and two counts of indecent assault (while he was a child resident of Haut de la Garenne) on children under 10-years-old. He was sentenced on 22 June 2009 to two years' probation (having spent 19 months on remand).[26] The trial was presided by Royal Court Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith.[27]
In August 2009, Gordon Claude Wateridge, then 78 was found guilty of eight counts of indecent assault and one count of assault but acquitted on 11 counts of indecent assault and one count of incitement to indecent assault, all relating to his time as a house parent at Haut de la Garenne in the 1970s.[28] Royal Court Commissioner Sir Christopher Pitchers, presiding, warned Wateridge to expect a custodial sentence for such a "breach of trust".[29] On 21 September Wateridge was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment by the Inferior Number of the Royal Court.[30]
In August 2009, Claude Donnelly, then 69, was sentenced by the Superior Number of Royal Court to a total of 15 years in prison after two trials in May 2009 and June 2009 for offences against young girls dating to between 1968 and 1982. These offences were unconnected to Haut de la Garenne. He was convicted in May 2009 on one count of rape and three counts of indecent assault and in June 2009 on ten counts of indecent assault, four counts of rape and one count of procuring an act of gross indecency.[31] Royal Court Commissioner Sir Christopher Pitchers, presiding, said that the abuse had had a terrible effect on Donnelly's victims, and that the substantial period of imprisonment recommended by the Attorney General was correct.[32]

Research into inquiry[edit]

In 2011, Leah McGrath Goodman, an American journalist, claimed that she was banned from re-entering either the United Kingdom or the Island and Bailiwick of Jersey for a period of two years, whilst in the middle of undertaking research on the abuse allegations. The alleged ban was then reportedly reduced subsequently to one year, after the intervention of John Hemming, a Member of the Westminster Parliament in the United Kingdom, and others. In September 2012, Trevor Pitman, one of the Deputies for the Parish of Saint Helier,[48] started a campaign and a petition-drive to lift her ban from the UK and Jersey, so that she could be granted a new visa and work permit and finish her investigative work.[49]

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