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The family destroyed by being `in care'

Peter Sawyer
Sunday 19 January 1997 00:02 GMT

One OF the most disturbing aspects of the Clwyd scandal is the number of former residents of children's homes in the county who are now dead, a matter highlighted by the Jillings report, writes Roger Dobson.

At least 14 young men, most of whom were residents in the Bryn Estyn or Bryn Alyn homes have died, some violently.

They include two brothers, Adrian and Lee Johns, whose family life was wrecked by the abuse they and two other brothers encountered in care.

They are pictured here. There is young Adrian the boy on the left sporting his new woolly waistcoat, his brother Lee looking bright as a button, sister Lisa in the middle, and Jay and Chris, both with severe short-back- and-sides - for what was to be the first and last portrait of the Johns children from North Wales together.

Soon after all five were in care and for the boys that would mean years of abuse. All four were assaulted, three of them sexually, during their combined 50 years in residential care, mostly at homes in North Wales.

Adrian, the toddler, died in the mysterious 1992 fire at a flat in Brighton. Lee, the bright-eyed youngster with the Ladybird shirt and ready smile, is dead too, in 1995, from a drugs overdose. Chris now lives in a state of anxiety, believing his brothers did not die accidentally and that paedophiles want to kill him because he knows too much. He only leaves his flat, which he has made a virtual fortress, once a week. At times he thinks he has been followed.

Jay, who suffered years of physical abuse, believes that he too is at risk from people who were connected with abuse of other members of his family. He says he has twice been attacked, once by men with a baseball bat who broke his arm. He also lives away from Wales at an address known only to a few friends.

Not surprisingly, both Jay and Chris are bitter about the care system that failed them.

Chris, who ran away from one home more than 30 times, said: "I live in terror here. The council have put steel security shutters on the windows and I have special bolts on the door.

"Our family has been destroyed by what happened to us in care. These people who abused children are evil people. They do not stop at killing and they enjoy inflicting pain. People do not know how evil they are and to what lengths they will go. If anything does happen to me it will be down to them. However it might look, it will be them.

"I cannot prove it, but I am sure my brothers' deaths were not as they seem. Lee was about to get money from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, why would he suddenly die like that? There were no drugs found in his body. And the fire in Brighton is very suspicious.

"I believe there are organised paedophile rings that reach very high places in this country and have probably been going on since Victorian times."

"Why didn't children speak out at the time? Because no one would believe us, no one. I ran away a lot, but I always got taken back. If you have been abused and the wounds are healed with a 10-bob note you are made to feel guilty because you have accepted their money.

"There were so many people in the homes who were abusers that I used to think everyone was like it. It is only after 20 years that I find it easier to talk about it. It takes that length of time."

Jay also believes Lee's death to be suspicious: "Some things, important things were missing from his flat. We never have been able to trace two personal organisers which had names and addresses and all sorts of information in. He put everything in there in code which would be there if anything happened to him. We think a lot of videos went missing too."

The deaths include, in approximate date order:

Robert Chapman, a former resident of Bryn Alyn, fell to his death from a railway bridge.

Robert Arthur Smith, a former resident of Bryn Alyn, killed himself in May 1978, aged 16, by overdosing on painkillers.

Barry Williams, former resident of Little Acton Assessment centre, Clywd, found dead in a flat where he lived in poverty, aged 21.

Peter Davies died 1985.

Adrian Johns, former resident of Bryn Alyn, died in a 1992 fire aged 32 in Brighton, Sussex. Verdict - unlawful killing.

Heath Kelvin Jones, former resident of Bryn Alyn, found dead in 1992 in a bedsit, aged 18. Cause of death, acute respiratory failure due to solvent abuse.

Peter Wynn hanged himselfin January 1994, aged 27.

Brendon Randalls, former Bryn Estyn resident, died aged 27 from alcohol abuse in April 1994. Allegedly the victim of a serious sexual offence.

Richard Williams was found dead in a car aged 18 in July 1994. Alleged to have suffered maltreatment while in care.

Craig Wilson hanged himself in November 1994 aged 16.

Lee Johns, also known as Lee Homberg, former resident of Bryn Alyn where it was alleged he had been sexually abused. Died in February 1995 aged 37.

Mark Humphries hanged himself in February 1995 aged 31. Allegations of sexual abuse against care workers.

Simon Birley, former resident of Bryn Estyn, was found hanging in May 1995 aged 27. Allegations he had been sexually abused by care worker.

Tony Wallis found dead 1996.

Countless more lives have been wrecked and distorted by abusive regimes.

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