Couple guilty of children's home assaults

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The Independent Online

A married couple were convicted today of a string of physical assaults against vulnerable youngsters at a children's home in the 1970s and 1980s.

Morag and Anthony Jordan, both 62, from Kirriemuir, Angus, were both found guilty of eight separate counts relating to abuse at the Haut de la Garenne home in Jersey.

But after more than eight hours deliberation, a jury at the Royal Court of Jersey acquitted Mrs Jordan of a further 28 counts and Mr Jordan of four.

Both defendants remained silent as the verdicts were read, but a former resident who gave evidence during the trial was led from the public gallery in tears.

Mr and Mrs Jordan were bailed to return before the court for sentencing on January 6.

During the two-week trial, Mr and Mrs Jordan were accused of inflicting "casual and routine violence" while working as houseparents at the children's home.

Prosecutors said they acted like "intimidating bullies" and had carried out "frequent and callous" assaults on vulnerable residents.

They were arrested following a multi-million pound police probe into suspected abuse at Haut de la Garenne.

Morag Jordan, originally from Dundee, was employed by the care home as a housemother between 1970 and 1984.

The counts she was convicted of today relate to assaults on four children who stayed at the home.

One had her face pushed into urine soaked sheets after she had wet the bed.

In court, the woman, now aged in her 40s, recalled her humiliation at the time.

"She used to pull my face into the sheets and let the other children know what I had done, called me 'pissybed' and 'pissypants'," she told the court.

But the jury found it only happened on one occasion, returning a verdict of not guilty on a second similar count.

The six men and six women of the jury also acquitted Mrs Jordan of other offences alleged by the witness, including being force fed and being pulled around by her ears.

They also rejected accusations by witnesses relating to other children having their faces rubbed in puddles of urine.

They did, however, convict Mrs Jordan of hitting former residents with her hand and with a wooden shoe.

Her husband, originally from south Wales, was found guilty of common assault against two children.

Mr Jordan's convictions relate to hitting former residents with a metal spoon, a knife or with his hand.

Giving evidence, a former resident recalled being hit with such force that he fell off his chair.

It happened when he refused to eat a meal that had originally been served to him the previous day.

He told the court: "I was nine or 10, I came back for lunch and it was just me and Tony.

"I was presented with something I had been given the night before. I refused to eat it.

"He swung around to me and struck me just under the eye."

The impact of the slap caused a blood blister to develop on the face of the former Haut de la Garenne resident.

Mr Jordan was acquitted of counts relating to squeezing the face of another boy and hitting him in the stomach.

The defendants declined to comment after the verdicts were announced.

Speaking outside the court, former residents who gave evidence during the trial said they could now "draw a line" under their experiences at Haut de la Garenne.

In a joint statement they added: "This is a mixed result, but the general consensus was there were abuses carried out and it has finally been recognised in a court of law.

"We are happy we have been believed after all this time."

The physical assaults carried out by the Jordans were "indicative of the regime" the victims said, adding: "Hopefully the States of Jersey will recognise there were abuses at Haut de la Garenne and issue an apology."