The Independent Jersey Care Inquiry public hearings resumed on Thursday (26 February) with Counsel Paul Livingston reading into the record the remaining witness statements about Don Road family group home.
Witness 320 gave two statements to States of Jersey police in 2008. He spent his early childhood at Brig-y-Don, Westaway Crèche and Haut de la Garene as well as living for a period in the UK with his father. He moved to Don Road in 1965 and stayed there ten years before being discharged to Basil Lodge.
Witness 278 did not live in the family group home but gave a statement to the SOJP in April 2008 about her visits to siblings who were resident there. Witness 319 detailed his treatment at Don Road between the ages of 7-11 in a statement to the SOJP in 2008. He also described other residents and the premises. Witness 318 was placed at the family group home in 1967 aged 3. In a statement to SOJP, she described her time there as “horrible”.
Witness 322 was the daughter of the house parents of Don Road and told SOJP in 2008 that her childhood memories are happy and they were “all kids together”. In her statement to SOJP, another daughter, Witness 323, noted she wasn’t even born when some of the alleged incidents were said to have taken place, and was a baby during others, so her recollection was fairly limited. She said she classed all the children living at Don Road as part of her family.
Counsel Harriet Jerram then read in to the record a statement given directly to the IJCI in July 2014 by Witness 3, who was unable to attend the hearing due to ill health. She spent almost her entire childhood in care (HDLG, Brig-y-Don, La Preference, foster care and a girls’ hostel) and decided to share for the first time her experiences in the hope it would help her personally and enable lessons to be learnt for the future.
Mr Livingston then went on to read into the record a further nine witness statements from former residents of Jersey’s care system.
Witness 150’s evidence was read into the record on Day 24, but has since come forward to give a statement directly to the IJCI about two stays at Sacre Coeur children’s home in the 60s. Mr Livingston was also able to reference two further supporting documents.
Witness 348 was born in 1956 and is a sibling of 150. He also gave statements to SOJP in 2008 about his experiences as of HDLG between the ages of 9-17, when he was discharged pending prison and borstal training.
Mr Livingston then asked the Panel to consider evidence about Witness 592. The Inquiry had already heard evidence about other members of her family on Days 36 and 40. An Officer’s report from 2008 contained her recollection of her time in care at HDLG.
Witness 200 is a younger sibling of Witness 592 and was in voluntary care between 1972 and 1981. She recalled being in foster care for about a year before being admitted to HDLG due to her foster mother’s inability to cope. She also spent a week at La Preference.
Witness 594 spent three months in HDLG in 1976 before being transferred to another facility on remand. Witness 187 was born in 1957 and gave SOJP statements 2000, 2005 and 2008 about La Preference and HDLG and made allegations of sexual abuse against several adults he came into contact with. Witness 188 told SOJP that he was sexually abused between the ages of 6-14 at HDLG and when camping.
Witness 620 first gave a statement to SOJP about Les Chenes in 1999 and also during Operation Rectangle. He described life at Les Chenes between the ages of 11/12 - 15 after being sent there because of family problems and having difficulties at school. Witness 651 was born in 1972 and an abusive father led him to rebelling and getting into trouble with police from an early age. He said he didn’t adhere to probation on one occasion and was given a two-year care order at Les Chenes between the ages of 13-15.
Ms Jerram gave an Opening Statement about Heathfield children’s home which was set up in 1987 in the wake of recommendations made by Home Office inspectors in 1981. Located in St Saviour, it remained in operation until 2011 when remaining residents moved to Brig-y-Don. Ms Jerram said that over the coming days, the Panel would hear evidence from a number of witnesses - some alleging abuse, others with positive accounts.
The Inquiry then went into private session before adjourning for the day.
Transcripts and supporting documents for the public hearings will be available in due course. Public hearings resume on Friday at 0900 with a live witness talking about their experience of Haut de la Garene.