Cops hunt for bodies in cellar
Grim hunt ... courtyard in centre of building is focus of the police search
Jersey facing tough question ... who knew what?
By MARTIN PHILIPS
Senior Feature Writer
AS the search continued for human remains, the background noise was of skeletons rattling in Jersey closets.
The island’s people were searching their collective conscience as questions began over whether there had been a cover-up of decades of child abuse and, if so, how many people were involved.
The same dogs used in the hunt for Madeleine McCann have been brought in to identify possible burial sites, but it doesn’t take a sniffer dog to know something stinks at the heart of this island.
A police probe into child abuse going back several generations was made public last year.
Lenny Harper, the island’s deputy police chief, said: “Police officers became concerned at the number of people in positions of authority being connected with paedophile crimes.”
If there was a big conspiracy on an island with just 88,000 people, most may know, or know of, someone involved.
The discovery of the remains echoes of 1973 cult horror film The Wicker Man, in which a Scottish cop investigates the disappearance of a young girl on a Hebridean island whose population follows a bizarre pagan cult.
'Our island's dark secrets'
ACCUSATIONS of a conspiracy of silence about child abuse in Jersey are growing
From BRIAN FLYNN
MURDER cops were last night breaking into a DUNGEON where bodies are feared to be buried in the former care home at the centre of an alleged child abuse conspiracy.
Beast ... evil Edward
A dog trained to sniff out human remains has identified hotspots above the bricked-up cellar — in which terrified youngsters would be thrown into solitary confinement.
And it emerged that a sex fiend dubbed the Beast of Jersey visited the children’s home dressed as Father Christmas.
It follows the discovery of a child’s skull at the Haut de la Garenne mansion on the holiday isle. A criminal investigation was also underway into claims of a cover-up of the scandal by police and government officials.
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A former inmate said FLOGGINGS for misbehaviour were so brutal that a boy’s finger was cut off by a cane. And a top cop said the current investigation has been dogged by OBSTRUCTION from locals.
Drilling machinery is being used to uncover the grim secrets of the Victorian building — once used to film police station scenes in the Jersey cop TV series Bergerac.
Forensic teams are also focusing on a number of suspected graves under an interior courtyard, where children were drilled and forced to march for hours on end.
Around 150 ex-inmates have now come forward claiming they were attacked at Haut de la Garenne, mainly in the 1970s and 1980s.
Evil ... rape outfit worn by Edward
Crucially, three former victims, two men and a woman, told police that bodies were buried there.
Notorious paedophile Edward Paisnel — the Beast of Jersey — was a frequent visitor to the home in the 1960s. He was known as “Uncle Ted”, handing out sweets and toys to groom kids, and dressing up as Santa.
The builder was jailed for 30 years in 1971 for 13 sex attacks spanning 11 years.
He terrorised the island, climbing into bedrooms to assault children. Paisnel, who died in 1994, was obsessed with black magic and wore a rubber mask and nail-studded bracelets during his attacks.
It is alleged that during the brutal regime at Haut de la Garenne, children as young as six faced beatings and confinement in the “dungeon”.
Ex-resident Frank Lewis was so appalled by his experiences that before dying in 1979 he wrote a harrowing account. In it he recalled boys being forced to wash 25 at a time in a huge stone bath.
He said: “Any boy who failed to remove every trace of dirt was ordered, naked and trembling, from the water to be flogged or kicked.
“On his first day a new headmaster came in with a cane and a Bible — and told us that he didn’t rule with the former but with the latter.
“Within a week he’d flogged me until I bled in front of the whole school and cut off a boy’s finger with a sharp cane.”
Islander Kenny Le Quesne described brutal beatings during the 1960s. He said: “My mother sent me there after she caught me stealing money from her purse. Within hours of arriving, I ran away. When I returned, the principal beat me with a birch.”
Stanley Ballard, 74, was at Haut de la Garenne for ten years after his mother died when he was six. He recalled: “If we were naughty we would be put into solitary confinement.
Bully boys ruled the home. But I’m very lucky I wasn’t there in the 1960s — I heard some horror stories. There are some gruesome tales. I’m surprised they haven’t surfaced earlier.”
The detective leading the murder hunt, Deputy Chief Officer Lenny Harper, said officers had drawn up a list of possible missing children who may be among victims at the home — dubbed Colditz by kids.
Mr Harper went on: “Efforts are being concentrated on the cellar, which has been bricked up. We’re having problems getting in. There seems to be some sort of backfill. A dog indicated a number of areas.”
It could be a fortnight before excavations are complete. The inquiry was triggered two years ago when cops linked a string of paedophile inquiries to the home.
The skull of a child, believed to be a teenager and to date from the 1980s, was unearthed beneath a corridor at the weekend. Among the remains was a girl’s hair clasp, a button and a piece of fabric.
In 2003 builders found bones next to children’s shoes at the home but police said they were an animal’s.
There have been no arrests so far. But Deputy Chief Harper, a former RUC and Scotland Yard officer, added: “We have had some resistance and some obstruction.
“Not from official departments but from people who perhaps were working at the home. A lot of the victims tried to report their assaults. For some reason they were never dealt with in the way they should.”
The home opened in 1867 and closed in 1986. It is now a YHA youth hostel. Jersey’s Chief Minister Frank Walker said: “Protection of children is our highest priority