Convicted rapist and former care home manager says victims were ‘purely lying’

Joseph Douglas Hewitt in 1995. Photo: Archant Library

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

The former manager of a Norwich care home convicted of historic rape and sexual assault of children in his care has said one of his victims used to sit on his lap to 'mark her territory'.

Woodlands Observation and Assessment Centre in March 1974. Picture: Archant archives.

Woodlands Observation and Assessment Centre in March 1974. Picture: Archant archives. - Credit: Archant

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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Cross examining Hewitt, prosecutor Edward Renvoize said: "There are three options. One - they are lying. Two - they are mistaken. Three - they are telling the truth.

"Can you think of anything you have done to any of these individuals to make them so very ill disposed to you?"

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Hewitt replied: "I was the authority figure in the home. My role was not to be popular.

"It would not be out of reason to suggest my past history might enable them to focus their attention to myself rather than nominate any other member of staff.

"There is no evidence during the time they were staying there I was regarded that badly. There are no records to suggest that."

Hewitt added some of the victims in his 1995 trial were "purely lying", but said he could not recall some of the particulars of the original allegations.

Mr Renvoize said: "These girls said that you raped them and that you indecently assaulted them. The lies told about you must be burned into your brain."

Hewitt said one of the accusations had been "extremely confusing" as he thought he had a "reasonable relationship" with the girl involved.

"It was a surprise," he said. "She would occasionally come and plonk herself on my lap. It was a way of marking her territory."

He said another "was lying".

"Her description was too clear and descriptive," he said. "It was not realistic. Two of the complainants regularly used to visit long after they left Woodlands to spend time with the staff."

Mr Renvoize asked Hewitt if, with a background in the RAF, he liked having control and discipline at the homes in which he worked.

"I like a sense of order and certainly in terms of setting standards or being responsible for making sure the place runs smoothly," Hewitt said. "I would expect the youngsters to do what they are told."

Later in the day, Hewitt said of another of the 1995 victims that "she was very dramatic" and didn't have a good relationship with the staff.

He said another was a "very volatile girl".

"She wasn't telling the truth [about the abuse]," Hewitt said. "Not at all."

Hewitt, of Snelsmoor Lane, Chellaston, Derby, has denied two counts of rape, three 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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