Monday, 14 October 2013

Victim of prison officer abuse scandal urges more to come forward to help police investigation

Richard Hall, 50, believes up to 100 boys were abused at Medomsley Detention Centre in Consett, County Durham during the 1970s and 1980s

Neville Husband
Neville Husband
A victim of the region’s most notorious abuse scandal is urging others suffering to break their silence.
Child sex attack victim Richard Hall believes up to 100 young boys were preyed upon by depraved Neville Husband, a prison officer, who orchestrated a ‘revolving door’ of abuse.
Waiving his right to anonymity Mr Hall, now 50, said he believes at least 20 more boys were abused at Medomsley Detention Centre in Consett during the 1970s and 1980s on top of the 80 victims already known about.
Today he is making a plea to other potential victims to come forward to support Durham Police’s latest investigation into senior managers who may have ‘turned a blind eye’.
“We were lambs to the slaughter. For Husband it was like a candy shop with a revolving door of young boys,” said Richard, who has struggled to rebuild his life after enduring a string of horrific attacks aged 16.
“Husband used to read the files and he would pick the vulnerable kids where they wouldn’t have any visitors or family. I’d been in care since I was three weeks old. He would swot up on their backgrounds and pick you to work with him in the kitchen.”
In 2003 Husband, who became a minister in the United Reformed Church in Gateshead in 1994, was jailed for eight years for molesting five boys at the facility for young offenders between 1975 and 1981.
He died in 2010 aged 72.
In August this year Durham Police re-opened their investigation with Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry tasked with unravelling crimes which happened to boys taken ‘off-site’ and ‘potentially, senior management turning a blind eye’.
Det Supt Goundry said: “It’s heartbreaking. The young men who were sent to Medomsley potentially only had one offence, their first offence, and if you came under the care of Neville Husband there was every possibility you would be sexually abused and raped.
“If there were officers who ignored evidence about a paedophile ring at Medomsley then they will be traced and investigated too.”
Richard, who lives in Newcastle, spent three months in custody at the centre in 1980 for being a passenger in a stolen car.
His abuse started within days in a room above the kitchen.
However, he knows of other boys who were blindfolded and taken off-site in Husband’s car.
“What he did to the ones he took away in his car is unspeakable and it was more than one person involved.
“One boy could tell by the pairs of shoes he could see when he looked at the floor through his blindfold. On one occasion it was at least four.”
Richard, alongside the other victims who helped convict him in 2003, follow the case intently and believe the real figure of those abused is closer to 100.
He said: “We’ve had 60 come forward this summer on top of the 22 around the time of the original trial but from people close to the centre of the investigation I’ve heard it’s now nearing 100.
“For those who stood by and let it happen now is the time to wipe the slate clean because one day police will be knocking at your door.”