Suffolk child sex abuse victim seeks council apology

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Media captionAbused man Lawrence McLean has rejected a £200 compensation offer from Suffolk County Council

A man sexually abused as a child at a Suffolk care home in the 1980s has said he is still seeking an apology from the council which put him there.

Lawrence McLean was abused at the former Four Elms children's home at Stonham Parva at the age of nine.

Mr McLean, 38, said he was "failed" by Suffolk social services and his experiences of abuse led him to a childhood of prostitution and crime.

Suffolk County Council said an ombudsman was dealing with the case.

Mr McLean said he was sent to the children's home, near Stowmarket, in 1983 after his father battled with alcohol issues and his mother struggled to cope.

He said at weekends children at the home were lined up and taken into a van where they were sexually assaulted.


He said if any children refused, they were given whisky to get them drunk.

Mr McLean said he was also forced to perform acts in the bed of Victor Copperman, who was once an officer in charge at the home.

Victor Copperman and Thea Trevelyan, who both ran the home, were shot dead in 1987 by a woman who believed her daughter was abused there.

Image caption Two people in charge of Four Elms were shot dead a few years after Mr McLean left

Talking about his abuse, Mr McLean said: "[It made me feel] very shaky, very nervous, very mistrusting of adults, but being nine I suppose because it happened frequently it became the norm."

After leaving for other care homes, Mr McLean said he regularly ran away to try to visit his father and he attempted to commit suicide on a number of occasions.

He said he lived in homeless hostels around the country after leaving care and spent 10 years committing crime.

He now lives in south Wales with his partner Jennifer, but he said decades later he still struggles to cope with the past.

"I believe that Four Elms took my childhood without a doubt," he said.

"I was failed badly by Suffolk social services. Suffolk County Council didn't protect me.

'Controlled by staff'

"I just want people to know my story and also would like [an] official apology from Suffolk social services and I'd like them to admit that they failed me."

In 2010, the council's own investigation found that Mr McLean had been "controlled by staff at Four Elms, scary games had been played... and he had been taken into the officer in charge's bed".

The report concluded: "There is a substantial body of recording of the view by professionals that Lawrence McLean had been psychologically and sexually abused during the period of his residence at Four Elms."

Image caption Mr McLean said he still suffered from depression 30 years on

It recommended an apology and compensation, but Suffolk County Council refused to offer either.

There has since been a review panel which backed the findings of the original report.

The case was referred to the Local Government Ombudsman, which said Mr McLean deserved an apology and £6,500 compensation.

In September, the council wrote to the ombudsman offering to pay Mr McLean £200 for his time and trouble. They also offered him six counselling sessions, but refused to pay compensation.

In a statement, the council said: "This case is currently being considered by the Local Government Ombudsman. It would therefore be inappropriate for us to comment at this stage."

Mr McLean said: "I deserve an apology and I hope that what I went through doesn't happen to children today because nobody deserved to go through the issues that I went through."

Greenfields House children's home, which occupies the former Four Elms building on the A140, said it had no connection with the past and there was "no suggestion whatsoever of wrongdoing here now".

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