19 Aug 2013 07:59
A victim of sexual abuse at a North East detention centre has called for an independent inquiry as police re-open an investigation into the facility
Ray Poar, now 52, was 17 when he was sent to Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett, in County Durham in 1976.
Within 24 hours, he was targeted by predatory prison guard Neville Husband, who was a serial abuser of young boys. It was only when Ray secured a transfer to another facility that he was able to escape the abuse.
The father has waived his legal right to anonymity to call for an independent inquiry into abuse at Medomsley and encourage other victims to come forward.
It is believed hundreds of young boys were preyed on at Medomsley in the 1970s and 1980s, and senior detectives at Durham Constabulary last week announced they have re-opened the 10-year-old investigation.
As a teenager, Ray was immediately separated from the others to work in the kitchen at Medomsley before Husband caught him taking marzipan from his office to give to another boy.
It was here the prison guard, who before his death in 2010 was convicted of molesting nine different boys, launched an attack on the teen.
“When I said ‘no’, he started squeezing my neck as hard as he could,” said Ray. “He just kept squeezing and squeezing until I was passing out and I thought I was going to die.
“He was saying in my ear, ‘You could disappear from here, nobody would care and nobody would know’.
“It was absolutely terrifying. I didn’t know what to do, I felt sick.”
The next day, Ray was kept back in the kitchen and raped by Poar in the store room. “From then on it just got worse,” said Ray, who is now a husband and father and lives in Cheshire.
“I couldn’t tell anybody and I wanted him to know that I wouldn’t tell anybody. I really believed that he could kill me.
“I was in total despair, I didn’t know what he was going to do next. After that, it was mainly shame that made me not tell anybody.
“I thought that because I didn’t put up a fight it was my fault so I kept it all to myself.”
For years, Ray blamed himself, eventually suffering a nervous breakdown and attempting to take his own life, coming within inches of jumping in a swollen river.
Husband, from Shotley Bridge, County Durham, became a minister of Brighton Road and Cromer Avenue URC churches in Gateshead after 27 years in the prison service.
It was not until 2003, when Husband was first convicted, that Ray contacted police.
Ray and solicitor David Greenwood, who is representing 35 alleged victims, are calling for an independent inquiry into the facility.
It is suspected Husband and store man Leslie Johnson, who was also convicted of sexual offences at the centre, were part of a wider paedophile ring.
Husband was jailed for 12 years and Johnson for six.
Many victims have claimed compensation from the Home Office for what they suffered at the Government detention centre. Ray also believes some officers were aware of the abuse and did not act. “I went over and over again in my head how I could have stopped it,” said Ray.
“All those people who could have stopped it, never did and they are still walking free.”
Mr Greenwood said: “The people that I have spoken to are convinced there are other people out there who either haven’t heard about the investigation or who are reluctant to come forward for various reasons.
“But my clients are determined it won’t go away until a proper, full root-and-branch investigation into what was going on at Medomsley is carried out. It is clear that hundreds of boys could have been exposed to sexual abuse.”
Det Supt Paul Goundry, in charge of Durham Police child protection, encouraged victims to get in touch as the force revisits the investigation.
He said: “Every avenue will be explored and we’ll do our utmost to bring perpetrators to justice.
"If there were officers who ignored evidence about a paedophile ring at Medomsley then they will be traced and investigated too.”
Source The Journal