Tuesday 25 October 2016

Three men to be sentenced for sexual abuse at school for vulnerable boys

Tom Pugh

Published 27/05/2015 | 07:00

Judge's gavel.
Judge's gavel.

Three men will be sentenced today after being found guilty of historical sexual abuse at a school for vulnerable boys over a period of more than 30 years.

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Colwyn Baker, David Hennessy and Nigel Putman abused youngsters at the now-defunct Swaylands School in Penshurst, Kent.

As well as the abuse committed by the trio, their trial heard that Baker encouraged other pupils to commit sex acts on other children.

The three men were residential child care officers at Swaylands School, which closed in 1994, but they "exploited the pupils in their care", a senior detective said.

Barnet Council ran the school, which was an institution for young people with moderate learning difficulties and later schooled boys with emotional and behavioural problems.

Following a 12-week trial, Baker, 71, of Craighouse Avenue, Morningside, Edinburgh, was found guilty of 20 counts stretching back to 1963.

Hennessy, 74, of Westfields, Narborough, King's Lynn, Norfolk, was convicted of six counts and Putman, 62, of Kings Road, Slough, Berkshire, was found guilty of two counts.

Prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC told the trial the atmosphere at the school was one "where abuse was almost the norm". Barnet Council has apologised for the abuse suffered by the victims.

The trio will be sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court.

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