Scots victim of borstal abuse hails police investigation into alleged cover-up

A SCOTS victim of horrific sexual abuse at the hands of a notorious borstal officer has succeeded in his campaign to convince police to investigate claims of a cover-up at a detention centre.

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John McCabe
John McCabe

Detectives in England are investigating the alleged cover-up of abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre in England's North East, during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

More than 140 people have contacted police with allegations of physical and sexual abuse at the centre, near Consett.

Medomsley first made national headlines in 2003 when Neville Husband, an officer there, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for systematically raping several teenagers.

In 2012, East Kilbride man John McCabe, now 49, broke his 30-year silence on the abuse he suffered as a 17-year-old at the hands of Husband in an interview with the Evening Times.

He called for a full investigation into the abuse and the alleged cover-up, despite Husband having died in 2010.

On the news that Durham Police are looking into the alleged cover-up, John McCabe said: "It took me a long time to come to terms with the events that took place at Medomsley when I was a young man.

"I had to live with the shame and the humiliation of those memories every hour of every day.

"But with the support of my family I found the courage to speak out about what happened in that place and to search for justice not just for me, but for the many victims.

"I went to my local MP, Michael McCann, for help and with his complete support our campaign to have the Medomsley investigation re-opened succeeded.

"A team of detectives are now deployed on this case.

"I've given the police everything I know but I also know that our calls for witnesses to come forward have led to nearly 150 victims contacting the police and telling their stories, many for the first time.

"I salute their bravery.

"The police must now be left to get on with their work and I believe they will be able to secure the information they need to allow them to pursue prosecutions."

Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, who is leading the inquiry, codenamed Operation Seabrook, confirmed that the investigation was gathering pace.

He said: "There are claims that there was cover-up that went right to the top and that Husband couldn't have continued the abuse without others either turning a blind eye or helping.

"How far up it went, and whether or not people turned a blind eye and were complicit in it, is a clear line of inquiry for this investigation."

Durham's Chief Constable, Mike Barton, pledged that all the allegations would be thoroughly investigated.

He said: "We are pleased so many people have come forward and trusted us with their accounts of what happened to them all that time ago.

"It's absolutely vital that all my staff who investigate allegations of sexual abuse treat victims sympathetically and provide them with the necessary support, and strive to bring offenders to book."

Michael McCann, the Labour MP for East Kilbride, has backed John McCabe's calls for an investigation.

He said: "John and I have been kept informed of developments by Durham Police.

"The resources that have been dedicated to this investigation mean that there is a real opportunity to secure convictions.

"There will be many people across the country who participated in this abuse who will be having sleepless nights, waiting for a chap at the door from the authorities.

"They probably thought that after all these years they had gotten away with their crimes.

"But thanks to John McCabe and his fight for justice they'll have to account for their actions.

"They deserve to go through every bit of that anxiety and more because their fears can't come close to the terror that they instilled in their young victims.

"Justice will be done but we are mindful that proper judicial processes must be followed to secure convictions and we will therefore be allowing the police to get on with their work without requesting a running commentary."

stef.lach@heraldandtimes.co.uk

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