Child rapist calls alleged victims ‘dishonest or mentally confused’

Douglas Hewitt in 1995. Photo: Archant Library

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

A convicted paedophile who sexually abused children at a Norwich care home in the 1970s has claimed fresh allegations are 'nonsense'.

Joseph Douglas Hewitt was officer in charge of Woodlands Observation and Assessment Centre off Dereham Road in the 1970s and 80s.

In 1995 he was convicted of rape and sexual assault involving six girls at the home.

The 79-year-old is now standing trial at King's Lynn Crown Court having denied fresh allegations from five alleged victims - three men and two women - who had been children at the home between 1979 and 1983.

The court heard how one accuser was 13 when he joined the home, and alleges being repeatedly raped by Hewitt when put on 'pyjama watch' - a method to prevent children running away.

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Another alleges being sexually assaulted after being put in the 'naughty room', which he said had just a mattress inside with the window 'screwed shut'.

Tania Griffiths, defending Hewitt, said the alleged victims have severe mental health issues and could be 'mentally confused'.

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Some, she said, are 'serious criminals'.

'For all five, their case will no doubt be, look at how this abuse has damaged us - for some, these will be serious mental health issues, for others, drugs and alcohol addiction and abuse,' she said. 'The men will say all this abuse turned us to a life of crime.

'We say, simply, this is all nonsense.'

Ms Griffiths agreed Hewitt is a 'convicted paedophile' after being found guilty in 1995 of sexual abuse against children homed at Woodlands.

'He says that none of those allegations were true and the jury got it wrong,' Ms Griffiths told the jury. 'He says he wasn't guilty then, he's not guilty now.'

She said Hewitt 'suspects most strongly that it is dishonest people 'jumping on the bandwagon' seeking compensation for things they know have never happened.

'Maybe due to mental health issues, they have persuaded themselves that the allegations are true or their memories have been contaminated by talking and suggestion so that they now think that it is true.

'Indeed, we say that it is a 'chicken and egg' situation: the defence say that the very reason they are making these allegations is because they are dishonest or mentally confused. Most of them were showing signs of serious disturbance when they came into care, indeed that is why they came into care.'

She added there had been 'collusion' between the alleged victims.

Giving evidence, one of the alleged victims said Woodlands was 'creepy', and he had been sexually assaulted by a number of the staff there.

'I knew what was going to happen – there was no getting out of that room,' he said. 'I stopped struggling in the end.'

Ms Griffiths suggested he was being 'dishonest' and had conspired with another complainant to secure compensation.

He replied: 'Discredit me as much as you want. My life has been hell.

'I grew up in the care system and it is a natural progression. You don't get brought up, you get dragged up.'

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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