Aston Hall: Police to investigate 'drownings' at Derbyshire hospital

  • Published
Dr Kenneth Milner
Image caption,
Dr Kenneth Milner ran the hospital for nearly 40 years

The deaths of patients believed to have drowned while escaping a psychiatric hospital will be examined by police.

A report by Derbyshire Police into the Aston Hall facility found children were allegedly given a "truth drug", stripped and abused.

The report also found one patient, Barry Wright, drowned in the River Trent while trying to escape.

A further three deaths identified by The Times as having taken place in the river will also be investigated.

Image source, Nottingham City Council/
Image caption,
Most of the Aston Hall complex has been demolished, with a small part converted to flats

Allegations about abuses at Aston Hall first came to light in 2011, and after more claims in following years police launched an investigation in February 2016.

Most of the allegations were made against Dr Kenneth Milner, who ran the hospital from 1947 to the 1970s and died in 1975, and police said he would have been questioned over rape and cruelty claims if he was still alive.

More than 27 people have contacted the force following the release of the report last week.

Image caption,
Inspection reports revealed doubts about Dr Milner's treatments in the 1960s

Police said Mr Wright, 24, was initially buried in an unidentified grave on hospital grounds before being transferred to a Loughborough cemetery at his mother's request.

Derbyshire Police said the deaths of 19-year-old Terence Comer, 25-year-old James Holden and 22-year-old John Wigley, which were all highlighted by The Times' report as having occurred while Dr Milner was in charge, had not been brought to the force's attention.

Det Ch Supt Kem Mehmet said new victims coming forward had provided "further information" to aid its "complex and prolonged" investigation.

"The circumstances of the deaths would have been detailed by the coroner at that point and this information will be considered by officers as part of our investigation moving forward," he said.

"As further information is received by our team, lines of enquiry will continue to be investigated."

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