Medomsley Detention Centre: Victims lives were 'ruined'

Medomsley Detention Centre closed in the late 1980s

Related Stories

Boys at a detention centre asked other inmates to break their legs in order to be moved elsewhere and escape being abused by staff, a former detainee has claimed.

Police reopened a 10-year-old investigation into abuse at a former County Durham detention centre last year when a former inmate said he was also abused. Since then the force said it has been contacted by more than 100 alleged victims.

Men who alleged that as boys they were the victims of sexual and physical abuse at the County Durham detention centre in the 1970s and 1980s have spoken of their memories.

"Some of the boys would lay at the bottom of the stairs and ask another boy to jump off the stairs on to their legs so they could break a leg and be removed from Medomsley Detention Centre in order to not be subjected to any more beatings," an alleged victim, who did not wish to be named, said.

Ray Poar Ray Poar said he was made to "bunny hop to the showers naked"

Following the original investigation, Neville Husband, who worked at the detention centre as a prison officer, was jailed for 12 years in 2003, and Leslie Johnson, a store man, was sentenced to six years in 2005.

Both men have since died.

Since the investigation was reopened in August, Durham Police has received statements from 143 alleged victims of abuse.

Many of those sent to Medomsley were first-time offenders often detained for relatively minor offences.

Ray Poar was 17 when he was sent there for stealing biscuits from a factory and has waived his right to anonymity.

He said: "It's always in my head, the shame, it's ruined my life, it's completely ruined it."

'Kicking us about'

On one occasion Mr Poar remembered being woken up after wetting his bed and being forced to bunny hop naked to the showers.

He said: "When I couldn't make it to the showers I was kicked.

Neville Husband Neville Husband was jailed for 12 years in 2003 and later died

"We knew we couldn't turn around to them and complain to them about what had happened with Husband because they were part of it, they were the ones that were kicking us about every day.

"The odd punch in the arm, the ribs, the back of the knees, every day they were doing it. You had nobody to talk to."

In 2003, Newcastle Crown Court heard Husband used his position of authority at the centre to systematically abuse his victims from 1974 to 1984. He was jailed after being found guilty of 10 counts of indecent assault and one of a serious sexual offence after police said almost two dozen victims came forward.

One man who wished to remain anonymous said some of the worst violence he suffered was from fellow inmates but he alleges it was orchestrated by prison staff.

He said: "They were telling you that you were worthless, that's why you were in there, you were no good, nobody wanted you.

"I was in the dorm, I felt being kicked and punched and slapped. When I've tried to look up, because I was in bed, I saw a prison officer at the door smiling.

'I apologise'

"Then I realised he's put them up to this and I just curled up into a ball and took what they threw at us. I thought tonight it's my turn, it will be somebody else's tomorrow."

About 70 Durham Police detectives are working on the inquiry.

Det Supt Paul Goundry described the reports as "horrific" and those who were sent there were faced with "what was effectively a brutal regime".

"If you ended up in the kitchens you would almost certainly be raped and sexually assaulted," he said.

Det Supt Paul Goundry Det Supt Paul Goundry described the reports as "horrific"

Mr Goundry said the three key strands of the inquiry were finding out what happened at Medomsley over 20 years, to hold people to account if they were still alive and support any victims.

Tim Newell, who was the governor at Medomsley between 1978-1981, wrote reports about Husband including that he provided "an outstanding contribution to the running of the establishment".

However, in January, Mr Newell said in a statement he wrote the report about Husband because "he was an outstanding catering officer" and did not have a strong relationship with Husband.

Mr Newell said: "If I had any suspicions about sexual abuse or abuse of any kind I would have taken action. If staff knew about the abuse taking place I am very concerned they let the abuse continue."

Sir Martin Narey was director general of the prison service when Husband's crimes came to light.

He said: "Without reservation I apologise to people at Medomsley who were harmed by Neville Husband. We should have stopped him much earlier."

Durham Police asked anybody with information to come forward.

See the full story on BBC One's Inside Out in the North East on Monday 27 January at 19:30 GMT.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Tyne & Wear

Weather

Newcastle upon Tyne

8 °C 4 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    08:51: Sexual abuse refuge gets £500K

    A refuge for County Durham teenagers who have been sexually exploited has secured almost half a million pounds in funding from the government.

    Durham County Hall

    Durham County Council plans to run a safe-house offering fulltime care to young victims of sexual abuse.

    As well as immediate care the centre, which is receiving £496,000, will help teenagers recover in the long term.

     
  2.  
    08:43: Scuffle 'was like children'

    Hull City manager Steve Bruce described his confrontation with Sunderland boss Gus Poyet during their sides' 1-1 draw as "grown men acting like children".

    The incident occurred with Sunderland trailing Hull 1-0

    Bruce had to be restrained as the pair squared up moments after Poyet was sent off for reacting badly to midfielder Jack Rodwell's yellow card.

    He blamed the incident on the "heat of the moment" while Poyet said: "What happens on the pitch stays there."

     
  3.  
    08:39: Councillor suspended Northern Echo

    A councillor is being investigated by his own party for failing to pay his council tax.

    Councillor Andrew Sherris

    Andrew Sherris, Conservative councillor for Yarm and Kirklevington on Stockton Borough Council, was suspended by his party on Monday pending an investigation into "financial irregularities".

     
  4.  
    08:30: Greggs on the rise BBC Business

    Greggs results hit the desk. Total sales rose 5.5% to £804m, while like-for-like sales up 4.5% - much better than the 0.8% fall in 2013.

    Greggs shop
     
  5.  
    08:20: Arrest made amid gas leak evacuation

    A man has been arrested after a gas leak in South Shields led to 34 homes being evacuated.

    The leak at an address in Trinity Walk was reported to Northumbria Police shortly before 18:00 last night.

    Trinity Walk

    Police said the homes were evacuated as a precaution while the leak was made safe.

    A 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and is in police custody.

     
  6.  
    08:09: All clear on the roads

    There are no major reported incidents on the roads this morning. Get the latest on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

     
  7.  
    08:05: Spring is in the air

    A mostly dry and fine day with some good sunny spells across the morning and into the afternoon.

    Clare Nasir

    Spring is in the air with top temperatures of 8C (46F). Check the forecast where you live.

     
  8.  
    08:00: Good morning Kristie Kinghorn BBC News Online

    Welcome to BBC Local Live. I'll be bringing you news, sport, weather and travel updates from across the North East.

    If you'd like us to feature your comments or pictures, send them to us by email, tweet us @BBCNewsNE or join our Facebook page.

     

Features

  • Elderly manSuicide decline

    The number of old people killing themselves has fallen. Why?


  • Petrol pumpPumping up

    Why are petrol prices rising again?


  • Image of George from Tube CrushTube crush

    How London's male commuters set Chinese hearts racing


  • TricycleTreasure trove

    The lost property shop stuffed with diamonds, bikes... and a leg


Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.