Tyne & Wear

Medomsley abuse: Durham Police interview former wardens

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionOne former inmate told the BBC's Danny Savage he would have killed himself if he could because of the abuse at the youth detention centre

Former wardens at a youth detention centre have been interviewed by police investigating claims a paedophile ring operated there.

Allegations of abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre near Consett are being investigated by Durham Police.

More than 900 former inmates have come forward to say they were sexually or physically abused in the 1970s and 80s.

The detective leading the operation said the force would be contacting "a number" of other former employees.

Image caption The 2003 jailing of Neville Husband for abusing boys at Medomsley prompted more victims to come forward

"There is still a huge amount of work which has to be done and we are in close contact with the Crown Prosecution Service, who ultimately will decide if there are grounds to charge individuals with criminal offences," Det Supt Paul Goundry said.

The four prison officers, who worked at Medomsley at different times between the 1970s and 1980s, have been formally but voluntarily interviewed by detectives. They have not been arrested.

Danny Savage, North of England correspondent

When a grown man tells you he would have killed himself if he could, during his time at Medomsley, you know that any legal case won't make a huge difference to many of their daily lives.

Things went badly wrong behind the high security fences on a County Durham hilltop decades ago. Unspeakable things were done to some of those young men - often there for things you would never be jailed for today.

After locking away those painful memories for so long they are now speaking out, hoping for justice.

The investigation was triggered after former prison officer Neville Husband was jailed for eight years in 2003 for abusing five youths.

The publicity surrounding the trial led to others coming forward and he was subsequently jailed for a further two years for other attacks.

He died in 2010, after being released from prison.

His former colleague Leslie Johnson, who was jailed for six years in 2005 for sexual offences, has also since died.

Police no longer believe the pair were operating alone.

One alleged victim, Stephen Branley, described how the experience had made him suicidal.

"They would punch you in the ribs and in the head, bending your fingers back. I wanted to kill myself," he said.

"If I'd had the chance to get hold of a razor blade I would've done it."

Another alleged victim, who spoke anonymously, previously told the BBC: "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."

Another, Ray Poar, has waived his right to anonymity. He was 17 when he was sent there for stealing biscuits from a factory and said the experience "ruined my life".

He said he was woken up after wetting his bed and was forced to bunny hop naked to the showers. When he couldn't make it to the showers he was kicked, he said.

Related Topics

More on this story