Jersey Care Home Abuse Victim: I Was Locked Up, Drugged, Beaten And Sexually Abused

Victims of the ‘Colditz’ care home where police believe up to six children may have died gave haunting accounts yesterday of sickening abuse by staff.

Former residents described systematic torture at the Haut de la Garenne home on Jersey, claiming children were repeatedly drugged, raped and beaten.

Others were subjected to sadistic games after staff stumbled drunkenly into dormitories to select victims.

One woman told how she was sedated with Valium before being subjected to “the most cruel, sadistic and evil acts you could think of” at the age of 13.

Another told of a “pinball wizard” game in which children were hurled around by staff and “bounced” off furniture.

Builders also told of a cache of torture instruments, including shackles and stocks, found when they were working to convert the former children’s home into a youth hostel in 2003.

The horrific revelations came to light as police were investigating a possible mass grave in the building’s bricked-up cellar.

A skull and the remains of one child have already been found but the investigation stalled yesterday as engineers were called in to ensure the structure is safe.

Police expect to be cleared to send specialist teams with sniffer dogs into the cellar today.

They believe the bodies of six children may be buried there.

The secrets of Haut de la Garenne, known locally as Colditz, could emerge as the worst child abuse scandal on British soil.

The inquiry began in secret and became public only in November last year.

Yesterday, more allegations about a police and government cover-up emerged.

Senator Stuart Syvret, Jersey’s former health minister, leaked a confidential report which he claimed proved senior government figures covered up a separate sexual abuse scandal at Victoria College in Jersey.

About 150 victims of Haut de la Garenne have come forward so far. One mother of two, identified only as Pamela, told police she was repeatedly drugged, beaten and sexually assaulted there by staff.

She was fed heavy doses of Valium and abused by staff – male and female – between 1973 and 1975, she said.

The 49-year-old from Jersey recalled how children would cower in their beds when staff stumbled out of drunken parties into the dormitories to select “weak” victims to rape.

She was one of many at the home stripped naked and locked inside the 10ft x 10ft punishment cells for days at a time.

She said: “The things that happened there are indescribable – the most cruel, sadistic and evil acts you could think of.

“What makes it worse is that these acts were practised on very vulnerable and often troubled children who had nowhere to go and nobody to turn to for help.”

Pamela said children were often taken to local beauty spots where they were raped before being returned to the home.

“We were so vulnerable. Any member of staff could take you out.

“I remember one boy coming back who had obviously been attacked and the carer said ‘didn’t we have a nice time?’.”

After two years in the home, she was so disturbed she cut both sides of her face with a razor. She was moved to a psychiatric unit in 1975, leaving a year later at 16.

She is now helping police with their investigation.

Peter Hannaford, who was orphaned at birth, spent the first 12 years of his life at the home.

Mr Hannaford, 59, now chairman of the Manual Workers Joint Council in Jersey, said he was sexually abused at the home in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

“Boys and girls were abused while I was there,” he said.

“The abuse was anything from rape and torture. It happened every night. And it happened to everyone. I was scared to go to bed.

“As a child, you cannot remember names but I remember the abuse that went on. I am now 59 and have kept this secret for all these years.”

Mr Hannaford told ITV News much of the abuse was carried out by older children at the home.

“You would be sleeping, your arms would be held down, next thing you knew you were getting raped. Most of the time it was the other kids, encouraged by the staff.”

Cyril Turner, a father of four, was sent to Haut de la Garenne at 13.

But after two weeks of abuse, he jumped out of a second floor window and escaped in a stolen car.

Mr Turner, 48, from St Clement, said: “There were always rumours of people who were abused and did runners who you wouldn’t see again.

“If you were bad, you would get locked in a dark room with just bread and water.

“That’s the way it was back then, people said things about what was happening but nothing was done.”

Trina Romeril, a 38-year-old mother of three, told how the abuse was not confined to Haut de la Garenne.

In the mid-1980s at the age of 13 she was sent to another home called Les Chennes where she stayed until she was 16.

Speaking from her home in St Clement, Jersey, she said: “Staff played pinball wizard where they cleared the furniture to the edge of the room and threw the boys around so they ricocheted off the furniture.

“The children at the home were always up in front of the magistrates every week and would be seen with black eyes, but the attitude was we deserved it.”