Jersey police to search six more sites

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Police will extend their search at a former Channel Islands children's home to six more areas today after a body was found there.

A child's body parts, thought to date from the early 1980s, were unearthed at the Haut de la Garenne house in Jersey on Saturday after a sniffer dog detected them through several inches of concrete.

"There are six other sites of interest that we have now got to look at," a Jersey police spokeswoman said. "It doesn't mean there are six other bodies."

Police said the remains had been sent to the mainland for dating.

Situated on a hilltop close to Jersey's east coast with views towards France, the imposing Haut de la Garenne building is familiar as the setting for the BBC detective series Bergerac.

Police have been investigating claims about the former children's care home for more than a year and on Saturday the discovery was made of skeletal remains, which forensic archaeologists have confirmed as belonging to a child aged between 11 and 15.

It is not yet known whether the remains are those of a boy or a girl. It is also unclear how long the remains have been buried, but Jersey's deputy chief police officer, Lenny Harper, said it was thought they had been there for more than five years.

Built in 1867, Haut de la Garenne was originally known as the Industrial School for "young people of the lower classes of society and neglected children". By the turn of the century it had been renamed the Jersey Home for Boys. It was to continue, under various guises, as a school and orphanage until its closure in the mid-1980s. The alleged abuse is believed to have taken place between the 1960s and the early part of the present decade, with the bulk of the assaults thought to have occurred in the 1970s and 80s.

A £2.25m refurbishment transformed the two-storey Victorian building into Jersey's first youth hostel, a 100-bed venue which opened in 2004. The area surrounding the youth hostel, renowned for its clean beaches, is today popular with walkers and birdwatchers.

But last year, police announced they were focusing on the building, as well as on the Jersey Sea Cadets, as part of their investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse dating back years.

Since November, 140 potential victims have come forward and 40 suspects have been identified. It was a tip-off that led police to turn their attentions to the former care home. At a news conference, Mr Harper said the search of Haut de la Garenne, which began last Tuesday, was prompted by information received from some of the victims and witnesses who had been spoken to as part of the inquiry.

"As a result of definitive indications from the ground penetrating radar, the archaeologist and also, perhaps most pronounced from the [sniffer]dog, we excavated one particular area of the house," he said.

One man has been arrested and charged with indecently assaulting three girls at Haut de la Garenne. Police said there was currently nothing to link him with the remains.