Up to 12 youngsters may have been victims of sexual abuse at a children’s home.
An independent report was published on Friday of key findings into historical child sexual abuse at the home. The report focused on allegations involving a former care worker at the Woodhead Road Unit between 1990 and 1996.
Council bosses missed the chance to stop a serial child abuser attacking young boys in his care.
A damning report into historic crimes at Coylton’s Woodhead unit said victims’ concerns were “not fully heard”.
Former care worker Brian Newman was jailed for 13 years in 2015 after being unmasked as a beast.
The 61 year old, from Kilmarnock, was convicted of 10 charges of indecency and sexual assault against six boys at the home between 1990 and 1996.
But the Post understands there may be up to a dozen cases involved at the home.
His victims only came forward after the Jimmy Savile scandal in 2012.
Now an investigation by the South Ayrshire chief officers’ group for public protection has admitted earlier reports of Newman’s abuse fell on deaf ears.
The review, carried out through the independent South Ayrshire child protection committee, found former residents did not raise concerns “because they felt they would not be believed”.
And a probe into further concerns raised by a former resident in 2007 “could have been more rigorous”.
The investigation concluded: “With the benefit of hindsight, there were missed opportunities at dealing with reports at an earlier stage.”
Lawyers for Newman’s victims have slammed the review as “too little, too late”. Kim Leslie, Partner and Specialist Abuse Lawyer at Digby Brown Solicitors, said: “We respect the acknowledgement by South Ayrshire Council that there were failings, but it is arguably too little too late for our clients.
“As the report found, incidents of abuse and concerns were reported years ago but were not investigated properly, if at all.
“We represent individuals whose lives have been irreversibly changed after suffering at the hands of Brian Newman.
“Personal injury actions for damages are now underway on the grounds that South Ayrshire Council is vicariously liable for the abuse carried out by their former caretaker which I hope provides the answers and closure his victims deserve.”
We told earlier this year how the council has set aside more than £ 1million for compensation claims coming their way.
Chair of the protection committee, Professor Paul Martin, said: “While there have been significant changes to modern child protection practices and procedures in the two decades since this abuse took place – providing a better framework overall for the protection of children – the review findings show that agencies can, and must, continue to do better to provide our young people with the best care possible.
“While a significant amount of work has already been undertaken by the council, Health and Social Care Partnership and Police Scotland, I will be monitoring further progress closely to ensure that we achieve this and deliver the best possible outcomes for children and young people across South Ayrshire.”
Paula Godfrey, South Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership’s Head of Children’s Health, Care and Justice, added: “This report makes it clear that there were shortcomings in how staff responded to concerns raised by young people at Woodhead Road Children’s Unit in the 1990s and for that we are truly sorry.
“Children’s houses should be a place of safety and a place where children and young people are cared for, nurtured and looked after – and that was not the case for those abused by the individual who committed these appalling crimes and breached the trust placed in him to look after young people.”
Council chief executive Eileen Howat, who chairs the chief officers group, said: “The chair of the South Ayrshire Child Protection Committee will ensure all actions are implemented and we will continue to ensure agencies work together to protect children and young people in South Ayrshire.”
Crimes Newman carried out his abuse at Coylton’s Woodhead unit
Beast Brian Newman was jailed for abusing six boys