Tyne & Wear

Stanhope Castle school 'alleged abusers not dead' victim told in 'police U-turn'

Colin Watson
Image caption Colin Watson said the abuse haunted him each day of his life

A man who claims he was sexually assaulted at a troubled youngsters' school says he is sickened to learn two of his alleged abusers are alive - 20 years after police said they had died.

Colin Watson said he was raped by staff at Stanhope Castle Approved School in County Durham in the 1960s.

Durham Police has not explained why Mr Watson was misinformed of their death.

However, it has reiterated a previous apology given to Mr Watson for its "investigative failings".

Mr Watson first contacted police about his alleged historical abuse in 1999.

He then contacted the force again in 2013 when officers widened the scope of their investigation to include more potential victims.

He said it now transpired that two suspects Mr Watson had been told were dead, were in fact interviewed in 2017 but were not charged.

'I feel robbed'

Mr Watson spent four years at the school, from the age of 11 in 1960, having been ordered to attend by a court after stealing biscuits.

The 70-year-old, who has waived his right to anonymity, told BBC News: "I just feel robbed. I feel sick. It's all that's been on my mind, daily."

Durham Police said no charges were brought against the two suspects owing to "evidential difficulties".

Ch Supt Adrian Green said: "The alleged victim will have been kept updated on the investigation by officers."

Mr Watson previously received a written apology from the force after he lodged a complaint in 2003 about their investigation into his 1999 allegations.

Durham Police's Professional Standards Department upheld his complaint, in part, and "concluded that had the investigating officer still been serving with the force, there would have been a case to answer for misconduct".

School closure

No misconduct proceedings were recommended for the 2013 investigation, the force said, although an investigating officer "received advice" following an appeal submitted to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.

Stanhope Castle was an approved school under the control of the Home Office until 1973.

Control passed to Cleveland County Council in 1974, which in turn handed liabilities to Middlesbrough Council when it was formed.

The school closed in 1981.

Mr Watson's case is part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

The inquiry was set up by the government in 2014 to investigate the Jimmy Savile scandal into sexual abuse claims against local authorities, religious organisations, the armed forces and public and private institutions.

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