A MUM in her 40s has been reliving her experiences by giving evidence in the trial of two men accused of child abuse and violence at a Coventry children’s home.
Kenneth Owen and Alan Todd have both denied a number of charges of cruelty and indecently assaulting youngsters at Wisteria Lodge in the 1980s.
Todd (70) of Tile Hill Lane, Tile Hill, Coventry has pleaded not guilty to eight charges of indecently assaulting three girls and six charges of cruelty to a child relating to one of those girls, three other girls and two boys.
Owen (70) now of Dickin Hill Road, Boston, Lincs, has denied three charges of indecently assaulting one girl and five charges of cruelty towards two girls and three boys.
Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC says the abuse fell into three categories – bullying, physical assault and sexual assault.
Giving evidence from behind a screen, one of their alleged victims, now a mother in her 40s, said that when she was about 12 her mother became seriously ill.
Finding that difficult to cope with, she began getting into trouble and running away, and even took an overdose of her mother’s heart pills.
She was taken into care and eventually ended up at Wisteria Lodge, which is now closed.
She said: “Most of the staff were fair. It was just a few of them who thought it was necessary to cause an upstart every time they came on shift. Ken and Toddy were in that group.
“When they came on duty Ken Owen would clap his hands and say ‘Who’s on for it today?’ Alan Todd was the same.
“They were like they were glued together. They would come on duty together and would walk the corridors together.”
Asked how the two men acted, she replied: “Just basically winding the kids up, antagonising them so a situation would unfold and they would be able to restrain you – and it would be violent restraint. It was like it was done deliberately.”
She said she was violently restrained by the two men on several occasions, and told the jury about one incident which had initially involved a boy who she described as ‘slow.’
“I don’t know what the row was, but they were goading him; and him being a bit slow, he reacted more and picked up the telly and threw it.
“With that, he was put to the floor, and both Ken Owen and Alan Todd were on top of him, so I intervened. I would have been 13 or 14 at the time.
“I was picked up by them by my hands and feet, and I was lifted up and carried up the stairs kicking and screaming.
“Each step we went up they knocked my head on it, and I just remember Ken laughing and seeing his gold tooth. They were just laughing with each-other.
“At a guess I’d say there were maybe ten steps. I had a mark across the back of my head, and it swelled up.
“If I had a pound for every time they told me they were paid to restrain me and that it was a restraint centre…”
And of the two men’s regime for getting children out of bed if they were slow getting up, the witness said: “Water.”
She told the jury: “I remember having water thrown on me and then reacting and shouting at them and running to the door.
“They would boot the door as you were running towards it. On a number of occasions I had the door kicked in my face.”
The trial continues.