Jersey bone fragments 'could suggest homicide'

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The Independent Online

Detectives investigating allegations of abuse at a former Jersey children's home said today that bone fragments found in a cellar "could suggest" homicide.

The remains were found alongside teeth belonging to a child in one of the underground chambers at Haut de la Garenne.

The news comes after it emerged earlier this month that a fragment of bone which initially sparked the search at the former children's centre was thought more likely to be a piece of wood or coconut shell.

Deputy chief officer Lenny Harper said a total of 30 bone fragments and seven teeth had been found in one of the cellars at Haut de la Garenne.

He added that it could suggest that a body or bodies may have been cremated in a fireplace at the former children's home.

Haut de la Garenne became the centre of a historic abuse inquiry in February after the discovery of what was thought at the time to be part of a child's skull.

Following the find, scores of people came forward claiming they were abused at the home. Some have talked of underground punishment rooms where they were drugged, raped and beaten.

Forensic teams subsequently uncovered a network of four secret underground chambers at the site where they found the teeth and bone fragments.

In other chambers, officers also found shackles, a blood-stained bath and the haunting message "I've been bad for years and years" scrawled on a wooden post.

Police have said there are more than 40 suspects, although so far only one man have been arrested in connection with alleged child abuse at Haut de la Garenne.

Gordon Claude Wateridge, 76, originally from Croydon, south London, is charged with three offences of indecent assault on girls under 16 between 1969 and 1979 when he was warder at the home.

A second man has also been arrested as part of the wider abuse inquiry.

Claude Donnelly, 68, of St Brelade, is charged with raping and sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl between 1971 and 1974 on the island.

Neither man has entered a plea.

Of the latest development today, Mr Harper said: Some of the bones do indicate a homicide or an unexplained death. Our anthropologist has indicated certain features on one or two of the bones that we are looking at.

"There is no doubt there are the remains of children in that cellar and no-one would expect us to walk away and leave it."

He continued: "We have sent the bones off to be tested and if the results show they died in the '50s or '60s or more recently we would say it is a homicide inquiry."

Mr Harper added that the list of suspects in the inquiry had now grown from around 40 to 70.

"They will all be questioned and most of them will be arrested," he added.