5th Dec, 2016

Coventry children's home workers jailed conjoined 12 years and ten months

Coventry Editorial 11th Feb, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

TWO BULLYING former children’s home staff members who physically and psychologically abused youngsters in their care in the 1980s have been jailed a conjoined 12 years and ten months.

The jury found Alan Todd and Kenneth Owen guilty for the abusing children at the Wisteria Lodge home in Earlsdon, Coventry.

Although they were unable to reach an unanimous verdicts on three further charges against each man of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old girl at the home in the mid-80s.

After a total of nine hours and 46 minutes over three days of deliberations, the jury found Todd guilty of three charges he faced in relation to that girl, by a majority of ten to two. Owen was found not guilty of the three charges against him.

Todd, 70, who lives on a narrow boat moored at Stretton-under-Fosse, near Rugby, has already been convicted of indecently assaulting another girl at the home and five charges of cruelty towards four more girls and a boy.

Owen, also 70, from Boston, Lincs, has been convicted of five charges of cruelty in relation to two girls and three boys.

Both men claimed the allegations against them had been fabricated by their victims, who were accused of colluding to make complaints in order to get compensation payments.

Mr Heywood said although both men were now 70, the offences took place when they were in their late 30s and early 40s and working as the Child Support Team at Wisteria Lodge, with Owen rising to become group leader and, for a time, Todd’s manager, and their victims were in their early teens.

Judge Alan Parker said: “I have a very negative opinion of both of you.  There is little either of you would not say to evade your responsibility for these offences.

“Those lies have been exposed by the verdicts.  You have both been convicted of very serious offences which are bound to lead to custodial sentences forthwith.”

“After being told that there were no applications for pre-sentence reports, the judge adjourned the case until Thursday when he will sentence both men.”

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC added the case concerned the abuse of vulnerable children taken into the care of the local authority during the 1980s and placed in residential or foster care.

“The residential home was known as Wisteria Lodge. Since the events the building was first closed and, having stayed closed for some time, has since been demolished,” he said.

“The nature of the abuse the prosecution say this case concerns falls into three categories.

“Children were bullied and subjected to humiliating, frightening treatment which fell short of physical violence.

“Secondly, there were occasions when children were deliberately physically assaulted; and thirdly there were occasions when female children were sexually abused.”

Todd was jailed eight years and eight months while Owen received a sentence for four years and two months.