'Remains of five youngsters' found at Jersey home

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The Independent Online

Jersey police have discovered the partial remains of at least five youngsters at Haut de la Garenne, the former children's home at the centre of the island's child abuse investigation, it was revealed.

However, the grim discoveries may not result in a murder inquiry because experts have been unable to pinpoint when the children died, says the detective leading the investigation.

Deputy Chief Officer Lenny Harper, from States of Jersey Police, said there are difficulties dating teeth and bone fragments from the children, who are believed to have been aged between four and 11.

"At the end of the day there may not be the evidence there to mount a homicide inquiry and an attempt to bring anybody to justice for whatever crimes took place there," he said.

Mr Harper, who is due to retire in August, said he was "disappointed" that the results of the inquiry were still unclear.

"I think it's a very slow business and you've got to realise that people are doing a professional job," he said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"So I am disappointed but I console myself with the thought that I've done what I can - my team has been absolutely superb."

He added: "No matter how certain politicians in Jersey would like to attack us, the fact remains that we have found the remains of at least five children there.

"Attempts have been made to burn these remains, to bury them and hide them."

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming said there was no doubt there had been "efforts to cover up" the allegations.

He called on the UK Government to impose independent judicial control over the inquiry.

Police have evidence the bodies were burned and attempts were made to conceal the bodies in the late 60s to early 70s, Mr Harper said.

To date, police have recovered a total of 65 milk teeth from the cellars at Haut de la Garenne.

Experts believe the teeth could only have come out after death because of their condition, it was reported on the BBC website.

More than 100 human bone fragments were also found at the site with one piece identified as coming from a child's leg and another from a child's ear.

Tests showed some fragments were cut while others were burnt, suggesting that murders had taken place and the victims' bodies had possibly been cremated in a fireplace.

Police are looking into around 97 allegations of abuse in Jersey dating back to the early 1960s and have said there are more than 100 suspects.

Mr Harper said: "We were pinning our hopes on the process of carbon dating. The latest information we're getting is that for the period we're looking at, it's not going to be possible to give us an exact time of death.

"The indications are that if the results come back the same way as they have now it is obvious there won't be a homicide inquiry."

However, the police search has unearthed valuable pieces of evidence which "substantially corroborate" accounts of abuse at the home, Mr Harper said.

Investigations started in February after the discovery of what was initially believed to be part of a child's skull.

Tests later suggested it was more likely to be wood or part of a coconut.

Following the find, scores of people came forward claiming they were drugged, raped and beaten.

Police excavated four secret underground chambers at the site, referred to as punishment rooms by some victims, and found shackles, a large bloodstained bath and children's teeth.

In one cellar officers found the disturbing message "I've been bad for years and years" scrawled on a wooden post.

Three men have been charged with sex abuse offences as part of the inquiry into historical abuse.