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Two convicted of abusing youngsters at children's home.

TWO bullying former staff members at a Coventry children's home have both been convicted of physically and psychologically abusing youngsters in their care in the 1980s.

One of the men has also been found guilty of indecently assaulting one of the girls in their care at the Wisteria Lodge children's home in Earlsdon.

But the jury at Warwick Crown Court is still considering further charges alleging that both Alan Todd and Kenneth Owen each repeatedly sexually abused another girl at the home.

Todd, aged 70, of Tile Hill Lane, Tile Hill, had denied eight charges of indecently assaulting three girls and six charges of cruelty to a child relating to one of those girls, three other girls and two boys.

His offences included psychological cruelty by making a girl who had become a vegetarian look into a bag in which he had a dead rabbit with its stomach torn open to expose unborn foetuses.

Owen, 70, of Dickin Hill Road, Boston, denied three charges of indecently assaulting one girl and five of cruelty towards two girls and three boys.

Both men claimed that the 22 allegations against them had been fabricated by their alleged victims, who were accused of colluding to make complaints against them and doing so in order to get compensation payments.

But after considering the evidence for almost seven hours, the jury rejected their suggestions and convicted the two men of offences against a total of seven victims.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC had explained: "The case concerns the abuse of vulnerable children taken into the care of the local authority during the 1980s and placed in residential or foster care.

"The residential home was known as Wisteria Lodge. Since the events the building was first closed and, having stayed closed for some time, has since been demolished. Children were bullied and subjected to humiliating, frightening treatment which fell short of physical violence.

"Secondly, there were occasions when children were deliberately physically assaulted."

Mr Heywood said that although both men were now 70, the offences took place when they were in their late 30s and early 40s and working as the child support team at Wisteria Lodge, with Owen rising to become group leader and Todd's manager.

Their victims were in their early teens.

The first charge of cruelty towards a girl who went into care in the mid-80s, when she was about 12, related only to Todd, who was her personal social worker at Wisteria Lodge.

When she "kicked off" after being punished for breaking a window, he dragged her from her bed, led her to the top of the stairs and shoved her down a flight of seven or eight stairs before pulling her to her feet by her ear Although they convicted Todd of that offence, the jury cleared him of two allegations of indecently assaulting her.

But it was through her that the investigation came to be launched in October 2013 when she was the first of the victims to approach the police.

One girl who was sexually abused by Todd on a number of occasions began running away to her grandparents, who she told about how she was being treated by him, although not about the indecent assaults on her.

When she returned, he beat her with his belt - but at least stopped indecently assaulting her, and Mr Heywood suggested: "You may be sure he felt the risk of disclosure outweighed the gratification."

The remaining six victims were not sexually abused, but were subjected to cruelty, three of them by both men and a further two by Owen alone and one by Todd.

When we went to press the jury has still to reach verdicts on three allegations against each man that for over a year in the mid-80s they both took opportunities to indecently assault another girl.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 11, 2016
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