January 1999

Child molester at the school gates

A Bradford girl was collected from school by a notorious serial child molester allowed out of Ashworth Hospital on a day trip, it has been revealed.

The girl now aged nine – named as Child A in the damning Fallon Report into the breakdown of order at the high-security hospital – was met at the gates of her Bradford first school by depraved paedophile Peter Hemming, the report says.

Hemming, sentenced to stay indefinitely at Ashworth after a series of sickening offences against young children, is known to have made seven visits to Bradford on day trips.

It was allowed to happen, according to the report compiled by former judge Peter Fallon QC, because responsibility for arranging Leave Of Absence visits from Ashworth was delegated to junior nurse James Corrigan – who, the report says, was later dismissed for gross misconduct.

Hemming had three separate convictions for paedophile activity. He had forced girls as young as nine into degrading sex acts and had a string of convictions relating to eight separate youngsters, aged seven to 12.

The report says: “Mr Hemming visited the Bradford area on seven occasions between September 1993 and April 1996, latterly escorted by nurse James Corrigan.

“On one occasion he visited Child A’s father’s house. There is evidence that Nurse Corrigan visited pubs with Child A and her father. On one occasion, it appears Mr Hemming picked up Child A from school.”

The report explains how on another occasion the girl was photographed lying on the bed at her father’s home. The photographs were later found in Hemming’s room at the hospital.

The friendship between Child A and Hemming, and also between her and another Ashworth patient, Paul Corrigan, was actively encouraged by her father – himself a convicted sex offender.

There is no evidence that she suffered sexual abuse from any of the patients, or her father.

But police officers and the inquiry team believe the youngster was being “groomed” for paedophile activity in the future.

She learned to regard Paul Corrigan – who had tortured, sexually abused and killed a 13-year-old paperboy- as her “godfather” and told school teachers of her visits “to see her godfather in hospital”.

Senior Bradford Social Services officers are understood to be furious that someone as junior as a nurse was able to authorise day trips for Ashworth patients.

They are astonished that such visits could be made to private households where there were children present – without any reference to local social workers.

One of the Fallon Report’s recommendations is to close this loophole.

May 1998

Doctor knew girl visited child-killer

A SENIOR doctor at a secure hospital yesterday defended the way she and her colleagues had handled the visits of a child to patients held there.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Zona Crispin told the inquiry into the Personality Disorder Unit (PDU) of Ashworth Special Hospital in Merseyside that she and another senior doctor had given instruction that nurses should supervise the visits.

Dr Crispin told the hearing at Knutsford Crown Court, Cheshire, that she had been aware that the girl, referred to as child A, was visiting convicted child killer Paul Corrigan on Lawrence Ward.

She denied having knowledge of the child spending time with convicted paedophile Peter Hemming on the same ward where she was a Responsible Medical Officer.

  • Peter Hemming, a man with “a very substantial history of paedophile activity with young girls, including assault and attempted rape”;

  • Paul Corrigan, who has a history of abduction and buggery of young boys, including the “kidnapping, torture, sexual assault, mutilation and eventual murder of a 13-year-old.”

The inquiry has been told by patients and nurses that they had expressed concerns about physical contact taking place between Hemming and child A.

Some patients have alleged that the girl, who started visiting the ward as a baby with her father, an former patient, was sometimes dressed only in her underwear. They include Stephen Daggett, whose allegations about child A and the availability of pornography, drugs and alcohol on Lawrence Ward led to the inquiry.

Dr Crispin said yesterday: “I wasn’t aware that she [child A] was visiting Mr Hemming. I thought that she and her father were visiting Mr Corrigan.”

She told the hearing that neither Corrigan nor Hemming were her patients so she did not have knowledge about them despite the fact that child A’s visits were discussed by the staff team of which she was a senior member. During meetings of that team at which she was present, said Dr Crispin, the issue of child visiting was discussed.

She told the hearing: “I would certainly want to make sure they [children] were safe when they visited, as with all visitors.”

Dr Crispin said that it was made clear that the visits of the girl should be supervised and that physical contact should not take place between any child and the patients.

She added that it was not until July 1996 that she and the team were made aware that there had been any complaints about inappropriate behaviour during the girl’s visits.

Dr Crispin, under cross-examination, told the hearing that there had never been any written policy which mentioned the issue of physical contact.

The other senior member of the Lawrence Ward team, Dr Ian Strickland, had earlier told the hearing that problems experienced throughout the PDU were made worse by lack of resources, the recruitment of untrained staff, too many patients housed in wards too large for successful treatments and remote hospital management.

The inquiry heard that Dr Strickland, who was suspended by the hospital 15 months ago when the allegations about Lawrence Ward first came to light, was criticised following inquiries into the murder of a patient in his care, and a hostage-taking incident.