29/02/2008

Search Continues At Jersey Care Home

Police investigating the discovery of a child's remains in a former care home in Jersey are continuing their search of underground rooms at the site.

On Friday, it was reported that a trapdoor, described by victims of alleged child abuse at the Haut de la Garenne care home, had been discovered.

It is understood that the trapdoor leads from the ground floor to the first room of the cellar, which is currently being searched by police.

On Thursday, police revealed that they made "a couple of finds of some significance" in the rooms, located in a cellar at the building, which is now a youth hostel.

Reports have indicated that shackles, a shallow bath and other restraining devices were found in the rooms. However, police have refused to confirm what the items are, saying only that they were items, which witnesses had said were in the area of the home where children were allegedly abused.

On Wednesday, a police sniffer dog, trained to find human remains, was said to have shown an "extremely strong reaction" in the first cellar room. Lenny Harper, Jersey's Deputy Chief Police Officer, said that the dog's reaction had been similar to the response when the child's remains were found in the building last Saturday. However, no further remains have been found.

The Haut de la Garenne home, which closed as a care home in 1986, is being searched as part of an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in Jersey, dating back to the 1960s. The Jersey Sea Cadets are also being investigated as part of the same inquiry.

Police have been searching one room in the cellar, while a second room is still to be searched. Both rooms had been bricked-up. Police will also examine a third room, believed to be unconnected to the others, which a former member of staff contacted them about.

Around 160 people have claimed that they were abused at the home.

Mr Harper told reporters that the investigation has been hindered by the lack of a definitive list of missing children.

Witnesses are reported to have told police stories of hearing screams in the night, followed by the failure of children to reappear the next day.

The BBC reported that Tony and Morag Jordan, from Kirriemuir in Angus in Scotland, who worked as house parents at the home from 1971 to 1984, issued a statement through their solicitors saying that they would help police with their investigation and stressing that they had nothing to hide.

The statement said that the couple had found their time at the home to be "a rewarding experience" and had "noticed nothing untoward" in relation to the care of the children at the home.

Last month, Gordon Claude Wateridge, 76, was charged with sexually abusing three girls aged under 16 at the home between 1969 and 1979.

(KMcA)




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