Two retired social workers responsible for a sadistic “regime of terror” at a children’s home during the 1980s have been handed lengthy jail terms.
Alan Todd – who sexually abused two of his victims and taunted a vegetarian child with the carcass of a dead rabbit – was jailed for eight years and eight months for his “grotesque” ill-treatment of children.
Judge Alan Parker also jailed Kenneth Owen for four years and two months after describing the physical and psychological ill-treatment of male and female residents at Coventry’s now defunct Wisteria Lodge Children’s Home as systematic and wicked.
A month-long trial at Warwick Crown Court heard that Todd and Owen, both aged 70, operated as a “two-man team” to intimidate and belittle children who were locked in “time out” rooms for hours at a time, verbally abused and often beaten.
Todd, of Stretton-under-Fosse, Warwickshire, was convicted of six indecent assault and five cruelty charges, while Owen, from Boston in Lincolnshire, was found guilty of five cruelty charges relating to five of nine complainants in the case.
The defendants accused a total of nine victims of “collusion” after officers from West Midlands Police’s Public Protection Unit began an inquiry into claims made by a 42-year-old woman in 2013.
But Judge Parker told the defendants: “There is, in my judgment, nothing that either of you wouldn’t say or do in order to seek to avoid the consequences of your behaviour.
“You were residential social workers or outreach workers and used your positions in order to physically abuse male and female residents.
“The regime and conduct that you were both responsible for was nothing less than a regime of terror.
“You were meant to protect children and yet you abused your respective positions to terrorise and cower some of the most vulnerable children that Coventry City Council were entrusted to protect.”
The judge, who ordered Todd to register as a sex offender, added: “The abuse of a child by any adult in any circumstances whatsoever is profoundly wicked.
“In truth it’s barely comprehensible to right-thinking people but what happened here goes far beyond the depths of wickedness and depravity which inevitably characterises the abusive behaviour of an adult upon a child.”