Coventry & Warwickshire

Wisteria Lodge: Three men jailed over care home abuse

Ivan McChleery, Alan Todd, and Russell Garner Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption From left to right: Ivan McChleery, Alan Todd, and Russell Garner have been jailed

Three social workers at a former children's care home who viewed their victims as the "dregs of society" have been jailed.

A man was convicted of indecently assaulting a boy and two others were found guilty of cruelty towards youngsters under their care at Wisteria Lodge in Coventry.

One of the victims said they were "treated as if they were nothing."

The three men had denied the charges from the 1990s.

Ivan McChleery, Russell Garner and Alan Todd were jailed at Wolverhampton Crown Court following two trials at Warwick Crown Court in September and November.

Eight men had been charged with a total of 34 child cruelty and sex-related offences, but the case could not be reported until restrictions were lifted by a judge.

McChleery, 77, of Greens Road, Coventry, was found guilty of one count of indecent assault on a 15-year-old boy in a caravan and cleared of three counts of child cruelty.

He was jailed for four-years and will serve at least half the sentence, with the remainder on licence.

Garner, 59, of Orchard Street, Bedworth, was convicted of two counts of cruelty on a boy and girl, both aged 12, in the early 1990s and jailed for 15 months.

Image caption Wisteria Lodge in Earlsdon Avenue South has now been demolished

The ex-Royal Navy officer clipped the boy over the head and pinned a girl to the floor with another staff member after she ran away, the court was told.

He was cleared of another cruelty charge and a jury was unable to decide on a further count of cruelty, which will lie on file.

Convicted child sex offender Todd, 73, formerly of Stretton-under-Fosse, near Rugby, and now of HMP Stafford, was found guilty of two child cruelty charges on a 15-year-old boy and jailed for nine months.

He punched him to the back of the head while carrying a cup of coffee and pushed him in the chest, his trial heard.

Todd was cleared of five other child cruelty charges and jurors were unable to decide on another, which will lie on file.

He was also found not guilty of three counts of rape and two indecent assaults.

'Pattern of abuse'

During sentencing on Monday, Judge Barry Berlin said there was a pattern of psychological and physical abuse at the home.

"There was a culture amongst some members of staff that saw children as dregs of society as who would believe them if they complained?"

The NSPCC said victims had shown "tremendous bravery" by speaking out, adding the "case shows that abusers like these can be brought to justice no matter how many years have passed".

In February 2016, Todd and another man, Kenneth Owen - now dead - were jailed after running "a regime of terror" at the same care home.

The site in Earlsdon Avenue South, run by Coventry City Council, was demolished in 2009.

Five other men were cleared over their alleged part of the abuse at Wisteria Lodge:

  • Philip Barnett, 65, from Hartington Crescent, Coventry, was cleared of three counts of child cruelty and one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. A judge ordered he was not guilty of a further assault charge, which will lie on file.
  • Pat Duigan, 60, from The Ridings, Canley, Coventry, was cleared of four counts of child cruelty
  • David Saunders, 65, from Sibton Close, Bell Green, Coventry, was cleared of one count of child cruelty
  • David Fox, 76, of Abbey Road, Swineshead, Boston, Lincolnshire, was cleared of one count of child cruelty
  • Peter Moore, 73, of Winston Avenue, Coventry, was cleared of two indecent assaults

Coventry City Council, which ran the care home, said: "These are historical crimes and we believe that, working alongside our safeguarding partners, we now have the procedures and culture in place to ensure vulnerable children are listened to and their concerns taken seriously and acted upon."

West Midlands Police had already admitted it did not properly investigate a victim's account of sex abuse at children's homes.

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites