Norwich care home boss sexually abused children to exercise “control” over them, a court has heard.

Joseph Douglas Hewitt in 1995. Photo: Archant Library

Joseph Douglas Hewitt in 1995. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

The boss of a Norwich care home in the 1970s and 80s 'wielded absolute power' and sexually abused children to exercise 'control' over them, a court has heard.

Joseph Douglas Hewitt was officer in charge of the Woodlands Observation and Assessment Centre, off Dereham Road, between 1974 and 1983.

Up to 25 children at a time, aged between eight and 18, would be sent there for assessment before being fostered or moved to another children's home.

In 1995 Hewitt was convicted of six counts of rape and sexual assault involving five girls at the home, committed in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The 79-year-old is now standing trial at King's Lynn Crown Court having denied allegations from five fresh alleged victims - three men and two women - who had been children at the home between 1978 and 1983.

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Prosecutor Edward Renvoize, closing his case, told the jury: "These events happened many years ago. The complainants are recalling events from when they were little children, dredging up memories.

"What you might recall with some accuracy are events of significant emotional trauma.

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"Life has not turned out the way the young [complainants] no doubt hoped it would. They are saddled with significant problems and are clearly struggling with drugs, mental health and for some have become institutionalised in the prison system.

"That abuse is hidden, sometimes in plain sight, is obvious.

"As suggested by Mr Hewitt that these things could not have gone on because of the proximity of other people, that follows each and every time there is an allegation of abuse at a care home it should be dismissed out of hand.

"That there are career criminals on a number of occasions for the prosecution is without doubt. What these men describe is embarrassing for them. It does not fit in with they way in which they would wish to be viewed.

"The prospect of 10 people all being mistaken about being sexually abused by the same man is, to put it mildly, desperately remote. The more pressing matter is whether they are all lying.

"Mr Hewitt is a convicted paedophile. He has no remorse about what he did, because he says those girls are lying.

"It is clear those girls, with one notable exception, hated him. They hated him because, as a fact, he sexually abused them while they were children in his care.

"He may say the jury got it wrong, but the jury were sure he was lying, and the girls were not."

Hewitt has told the court his accusers are lying and have manufactured allegations against him in pursuit of compensation.

"The reality is the Doug Hewitt compensation bandwagon drove off over the horizon many years ago," Mr Renvoize said. "The crimes of Doug Hewitt were forgotten years ago by the press. He was released in 2002 and moved on to a new phase in his life without journalists clamouring at his door."

He added the fact three men are involved in this case when Hewitt's five victims are all women is "neither here not there".

"Sexual abuse in these cases have very little to do with sexual attraction and more to do with the control and power Mr Hewitt was able to exercise over them," he said.

"He was a respected member of society. He was the boss. These kids were just kids in care - liars, cheats and thieves. You could not believe a word they said.

"The power Mr Hewitt wielded in that home was absolute. Nobody has seen Mr Hewitt. People have been given a version of Mr Hewitt. That version has slipped at times during this trial. That version that raped and assaulted [the complainants] is Mr Hewitt."

Hewitt, of Snelsmoor Lane, Chellaston, Derby, has denied two counts of rape, two of a serious sexual offence, two of indecent assault and two of gross indecency.

The trial, expected to last five weeks, continues. The jury were told of the previous convictions.

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