Jersey police make 'significant finds' in cellar

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Police digging in the cellar of the former children's home in Jersey at the centre of a major child abuse and possible murder investigation said they have made two "significant finds" since excavations began two days ago.

The island's deputy police chief, Lenny Harper, confirmed that both the items have been described by some of the victims who claim they were abused in the chamber underneath the Haut de la Garenne.

"They are significant because they are items that victims told us were there in the cellar... when the offences were committed," he told reporters. "They certainly help corroborate accounts given by victims."

Police have been searching the rambling care home since a child's skull was discovered under a concrete floor almost a week ago.

Mr Harper declined to elaborate on what the items were, but he did confirm that neither was thought to have been actively used to abuse victims.

He refused to be drawn on reports that the second item was a set of shackles which builders said they had also discovered while renovating the home five years ago. It is believed the first item, which was found on Wednesday, is a bath bolted to the floor.

Police also confirmed that former employees at the care home have claimed there is a third cellar somewhere on the property. A police spokesperson said: "We have been contacted by people who used to work here who have told us there may be a third chamber." It is understood that employees may be asked to help police locate it.

Police forensic experts also spent much of yesterday afternoon using a digger to excavate a large section of earth at the back of the house. Mr Harper said the area measured approximately 15 yards by 20 yards and was one of at least six areas in which a sniffer dog, specially trained to locate human remains, had shown interest.

Police have made no attempt yet to access the second room adjacent to the cellar that was discovered on Wednesday. A specialist archaeologist and anthropologist continued sifting through the rubble inside the first cellar, where the sniffer dog has also indicated human remains may lie. Mr Harper described the search as a "slow and methodical process" that is likely to take weeks.

Mr Harper said he was in "no hurry" to arrest any of the more than 40 suspects identified by police, but said there was no doubt that arrests would be made.

Only one person, Gordon Wateridge, aged 76, a former warden at the home, has been charged in connection with the investigation so far.