Abuse re­port

Ayrshire Post - - Front Page - STU­ART WIL­SON

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

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