The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry has today (Wednesday 15 January) heard seven further witness statements from former residents of Haut de la Garenne. They were read into the record by Counsel Paul Livingston.
Witness 38 gave his statement to the Inquiry team on January 16, 2015 but declined to appear in person. He recalls being abused by Morag Kidd and described her as very aggressive and violent. He went on to describe the physical and sexual abuse that took place at Haut de la Garenne. He recalled a number of men, including, Tony Watton, hanging around at HDLG and often the boys would sit on their laps. He questioned why known paedophiles were allowed to visit and socialise with children if not to abuse them. He believes HDLG was run badly and there was no monitoring of what was going on.
Witness 142 told States of Jersey Police of being sent to HDLG by his mother for persistent truancy from school in the early 80s. He described it as "very strict and oppressive" but did not recall any incidents of physical violence or sexual abuse whilst he was there. "Physical punishment was always behind closed doors – cane or pushed."
Witness 597 said HDLG was "like a prison" and the daily routine "regimental". On one occasion he got into a fight with another resident and was "dragged off and put into solitary confinement", which he described as being "like a padded cell". He recalls being put in what he described as a straightjacket and overhearing someone saying that he wasn't "old enough to wear that". 597 described how the atmosphere would change at 6pm when the night staff began their shift. "We knew that things were going on and everyone was on tenterhooks. The doors were always left open at night and I remember the older kids would tell the younger kids stories, like the Beast of Jersey would get you, also don't go to sleep because people are going to come into your room." When 597 told his parents about his treatment he was told "not to exaggerate". Aged 10, he just learned to live with it.
In a short statement to the Redress Scheme, Witness 143 recalled being sexually abused by a Residential Child Care Officer at HDLG during 1978/79. She stated she was too embarrassed to tell anyone.
Witness 223 suffered abuse at home before moving to Clos de Roncier and HdlG where she also suffered physical and mental abuse. As a result she used to run away a lot and would either be brought back by the Police or picked up from the police station. Either way, she would be locked up for three days when she returned to HdlG. Mr Livingston directed the Panel to a number of supporting documents re 223's detentions. Reflecting on her experience, 223 said: "My past, present and future have been ruined because of my childhood and what it has done to my mental health. I'm wasted."
Witness 311 told SOJP about her experiences at Brig y Don, HdlG, Blanche Pierre and Les Chenes. She described HdlG as a "daunting" place with "lots of horrible kids in it." After running away she would be placed in cells for 72 hours and the night staff would strip her of her clothes. She also stated she was assaulted by other residents. She said Les Chenes as "ok" but "strict" and described some of the members of staff in negative terms.
In his statements to SOJP, Witness 173 said his initial impression of HDLG was that it was "picturesque" but then described punishments such as groundings and "taps around the ears". He never saw staff physically assaulting residents. He recalled two occasions when an older female resident touched his genitals and forced him to touch her chest. He also described being placed in a cell for punching a hole in the wall. He said he was woken up by someone pushing his head against the pillow and holding his head sideways whilst someone else raped him. The following day he recalled the member of staff who placed him in the cell asking if he'd enjoyed the evening and whether he felt better now. He stated he did not report this to staff because he felt "too ashamed" and did not tell his father because "he wouldn't listen to me".
Transcripts and supporting documents will be available for viewing and download in due course.
The Inquiry will resume public hearings at 0930 on Thursday (28 January).