July 2019

Shocking sexual abuse at May Lodge children’s home in Scarborough in the 1970s

Maurice Berry

A second man has been jailed for the rape and systematic sexual abuse of children at a care home in Scarborough in the 1970s.

Maurice Berry, 64, was jailed for 13 years at York Crown Court on Tuesday following a week-long trial in which the jury heard heart-rending evidence from victims who were “preyed on” at the former May Lodge Children’s Home on Filey Road.

Berry raped one of the girls – a teenager who cannot be named – following a “grooming campaign” in which he showered her with compliments and pretended to be her boyfriend.

He also sexually abused two younger girls after sneaking into their room at night or luring them to his own sleeping quarters at the Victorian home.

Berry, who has lately been working as a chartered surveyor, was the second former care worker to be jailed for their wicked crimes at May Lodge.

In May, 72-year-old Raymond Vasey, from Darlington, was jailed for 17 years for raping and sexually abusing young girls at the children’s home in the 1970s.

Vasey, who was also a live-in care worker in his 20s at the time, preyed on at least three young girls – one just six years old.

During Vasey’s trial, one of the victims spoke of “sinister” goings-on at the children’s home which at the time went “unexplained”.

The jury at Berry’s trial were told there was a culture of “rigid discipline” at the home where Berry – by his own admission a strict martinet – would prowl the corridors “like the Gestapo” and on one occasion allegedly ordered one girl to sleep on the floor of the laundry room.

He was arrested at his home in Lincolnshire after one or more of the victims, now middle-aged, finally came forward to police in 2017.

Berry, of The Common, Warrenside, North Somercotes, was charged with 18 offences including 13 counts of indecent assault, three counts of indecency with a child and two counts of rape over a period of about a year in the 1970s. He denied all allegations.

Prosecutor Dan Cordey said one of his victims was just seven or eight when Berry – whose role at the home was deputy officer-in-charge – started coming into her room at night “under the pretence of reading a bedside story”, then sexually abused her.

Mr Cordey said the two instances where Berry had full sex with the older, teenage girl were rapes because “it wasn’t proper or genuine consent (on her part)”.

“The defendant would tell her she was his girlfriend and when she said she didn’t want to have sex with him, he would take the mick out of her and laugh at her,” added the prosecutor.

Defence barrister Edmund Gritt told judge Sean Morris that Berry was no longer a danger to youngsters and hadn’t worked with children since he was 23.

The jury found Berry guilty of all but one of the 18 counts, including the rapes of the teenage girl.

Berry, wearing a grey suit, showed no emotion as the judge jailed him for 13 years. He was also placed on the sex-offenders’ register for life.

Last week, John William Laister, 77, currently of Full Sutton Prison, York, pleaded guilty to 14 sexual offences, including indecent assault and gross indecency, against young girls at May Lodge in the 1960s and 70s. He will be sentenced on September 3.