Suffolk

Stowmarket Oakwood School trial: Prosecution says there was 'abusive regime'

Kingsfield Centre, Stowmarket Image copyright Google
Image caption Oakwood is now a pupil referral unit on Chilton Way in Stowmarket

An "abusive regime" existed at a boarding school for children with educational and behavioural problems, a trial of four teachers has heard.

Four men who all taught at the former Oakwood School in Stowmarket, Suffolk, deny a total of 24 cruelty charges.

The prosecution told Ipswich Crown Court that 20 former pupils claim they were punched, kicked, slapped and repeatedly restrained in head locks.

The trial at Ipswich Crown Court is due to last for eight weeks.

The Suffolk County Council-run school for boys aged between eight and 16 opened in 1974 and was closed in 2000.

'Naughty boys'

The defendants are Gerald West, 70, of Martins Meadow, Gislingham in Suffolk; Stephen Player, 61, of Manor Road, Spratton in Northamptonshire; Michael Watts, 59, of Sellwood Road, Netley Abbey, Southampton and Graham Hallett, 66, of Aldcliffe Road, Lancaster.

Opening the case, Jacqueline Carey, prosecuting counsel, said: "They were naughty young boys. Because of their problems they were also vulnerable.

"The violence meted out to them was all an too prevalent part of life at Oakwood.

"You may consider that there was an abusive regime that existed."

The trial continues.

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