December 2001

Woman awarded abuse damages

Brenda was 13 when she entered the care home

A Staffordshire woman has received £60,000 for psychological damage suffered as a child in a care home.

Brenda, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, said she was abused 20 years ago at Longdon Hall School, Staffordshire. (pic above)

The payment was agreed in a out-of-court settlement with half the money being paid by Staffordshire County Council insurers and the other half by the school’s insurers.

Staffordshire County Council and Honormead Ltd, the company employed to look after her, have not admitted liability.

Convicted paedophile

Mrs Moult said £60,000 is not sufficient compensation for what she suffered.

She told the BBC’s Midlands Today programme: “I wanted justice and I have not been given justice.

“I haven’t been given the opportunity to stand in a court and say what I feel and try to get justice properly.”

Mrs Moult was just 13 when she was placed at Longdon Hall School – she says she was indecently assaulted by the then head of care, Richard Owen.

He was already a convicted paedophile.

She also said she was later sadistically abused again by a Staffordshire County Council worker.

This has never been proved and no one has supported her evidence.

To compile the case, lawyers had to trawl through 3,000 documents including reports, complaints and protests made by Mrs Moult.

She said: “They knew what happened.

“They knew, but didn’t care.”

A director of private company Honormead Ltd said employing a convicted paedophile would not happen today.

“We have to take every precaution.

“We do so now because we have a legal right to do so. At that time, we did not.”

July 1998

Care worker gets four years for sex abuse of girls

A head care worker who kept secret for 31 years a conviction for sex with a 14-year-old girl has been jailed for four years for abusing teenagers at a Midland school

A jury at Stafford Crown Court cleared Richard Owen of four rapes but found him guilty of three indecent assaults and one serious sexual offence committed between 1976 and 1980 at Longdon Hall Special School near Lichfield, Staffordshire. 

Owen (62), of Shaw Avenue, Kidderminster, Worcs who denied all the offences, was told by Mr Justice Latham: “You obviously had an ability to engage the trust and affection of young people in a way which was positive but unfortunately you were unable to resist the love which those trusting young gave to you. 

“You abused their affection and trust.” 

The judge said the maximum sentence he could pass for indecent assault was two years and had the serious offence been committed later it carried a ten-year maximum.

He said he would pass one year consecutive sentences on each of the four offences and told Owen he would be eligible for parole after two years. 

Mr Justice Latham said Owen would have to register under the Sexual Offenders Act and when released would have to report to a police station wherever he lived. 

Mr Roger Smith QC, prosecuting, said Owen “groomed girls for sex and would choose them from dormitories and commit offences against them in the music or relaxation rooms with `do-not-disturb’ notices on the door”. 

He said between 30 and 60 maladjusted girls who had been sexually or physical abused in their own homes or fostered into care had boarded at the school. 

“Some girls took the view that if they complained no one would believe them. One girl considered whatever treatment she received at the residential school, she would rather that than be sent back to the home from which she came,” said Mr Smith. 

He revealed that in January 1967 at Surrey Quarter Sessions, Kingston, Owen was convicted of three charges of unlawful sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl and placed on probation for two years. 

Mr Stephen Linehan QC, defending, said of Owen: “He has lived a blameless life for 19 years and has cared for many young people. Many who have been in his charge spoke highly of him and of the love he has given them. 

“If ever a man can redeem himself by passage of time…he has done everything a man can do, but punishment must still follow.” 

In a statement after the trial, Mr David Hill, staff development officer of Honormead Schools Ltd, Derby, the parent company of Longdon Hall, said: “If we had known about his conviction years ago there is no way he would have been employed. Had any of this been known at any time he would have been out. 

“Since 1986, all potential employees working directly with children have been required to undergo police criminal background and other agency checks on their backgrounds. 

“It is regrettable, therefore, that before that time no statutory regulation existed for organisations such as ours to make similar, thorough checks of potential employees.” 

Det Chief Insp John Bailey, who led a team of investigators in the case, said: “Owen has shown he is a man who is very plausible and very manipulative who used these qualities to obtain employment, particularly with the Honormead group. 

“The girls involved in this case have been subjected to systematic abuse by Richard Owen. He has covered his past very well, and it is a credit to the families who have been brave enough to come forward that we have been able to investigate the matters.”