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Ex-staff at Swaylands School plead not guilty to child abuse charges

Former staff at Kent school plead not guilty to charges of child abuse at Maidstone Crown Court

Swaylands school

26 June 2014

Three former residential care officers at Swaylands School, a former residential school for boys with behavioural difficulties in Penshurst, Kent, pleaded not guilty yesterday (25 June 2014)  at Maidstone Crown Court.

Colwyn Baker, 70, from Edinburgh, David Hennessy, 73, from Norfolk, and Nigel Putman, 61, from Berkshire, are charged with 57 counts relating to child abuse, which took place whilst they were employed at Swaylands between 1963 and 1993.

The charges included buggery with a male less than 16 years of age and indecent assault.

All charges were denied by the defendants.

According to Alison Millar from law firm Leigh Day, who is representing alleged victims from the school, the charges relate to 22 separate complainants, and that over 100 people have provided witness evidence in relation to the investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

Concern was raised regarding the readiness for trial of the case, but the Judge decided to confirm that the trial, which is likely to last several months, will commence on 20 October.

Ms Millar, who is head of the Leigh Day abuse team said:

“Our clients are very relieved that the application to postpone the trial date was not granted.

“We are pleased that the Judge acknowledged how important it is for trial arrangements to be kept to in a case of this sensitivity. Individuals giving evidence as complainants and witnesses need the certainty of a fixed date and would have found it very difficult to cope with any postponement”.

Former Swaylands pupils are encouraged to contact Catriona on 020 7650 1232 in the Leigh Day Abuse team.

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