Convicted rapist who ran Norwich children’s care home denies allegations from five more victims

Joseph Douglas Hewitt in 1995. Photo: Archant Library

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

A convicted rapist who ran a Norwich children's care home in the 1970s and 80s stands accused of fresh allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Joseph Douglas Hewitt was convicted in October 1995 of sexual assault and rape involving six children at the Woodlands care home off Dereham Road in the 1970s.

He has now denied allegations from five fresh victims, three boys and two girls, who were placed at the home between 1979 and 1983.

Hewitt, 79, was the officer in charge of the care home where children would be placed in preparation for foster care.

King's Lynn Crown Court heard how one boy was 13 when was put in Woodlands after falling foul of the law.

You may also want to watch:

He was 'unruly' at the home and would run away on a regular basis.

As a result he was put on 'pyjama watch', in which children would be dressed in their pyjamas at all times and closely monitored by staff to stop them absconding.

Most Read

After allegedly being raped, the complainant said Hewitt told him not to say anything because they would not believe him and he would 'never see his family again'.

'Following that incident [he] decided he needed to run away from the children's home,' said prosecutor Edward Renvoize.

'Unfortunately he was caught very soon afterwards and placed back on pyjama watch.

'[He] became used to this conduct. He recalls how knowing it was going to happen he would just roll over and give in to the defendant.

'In essence it became an unpleasant but normal feature of his time in the care home.'

The abuse only ended when the boy said he attempted to stab Hewitt with a pair of scissors.

Another alleged victim had arrived at Woodlands at the age of 10.

'His time there began very unhappily and he remembers on the day after he arrived an older boy raped him,' said Mr Renvoize.

He described running away but being returned soon afterwards by the police.

'He describes the defendant took him to the 'naughty room' – [he] thought it had been a staff bedroom but remembers there was just a mattress on the floor,' Mr Renvoize told the court. 'He was stripped and put in that room.'

The court heard the victim believed he told people - including a social worker - what was happening, but was told to ''keep his dirty little mouth shut''.

Giving evidence, the alleged victim said there had been other abusers at Woodlands.

'One girl tried to set fire to herself just to get away,' he said. 'One boy tried to hang himself from a tree and we went up there and had to take the rope off him.'

He said Hewitt was 'horrible bully' and a 'nonce'.

'Woodlands was a children's home to move us on to foster parents or other children's homes,' he said. 'You could be there anything from a day to a couple of years. It was creepy in there, it was this big Victorian house.'

He said he had been sexually assaulted by other staff at Woodlands, and used to 'just freeze'.

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

Tania Griffiths, defending Hewitt, suggested the alleged victim 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.'

Another alleged victim was aged 14 when she was placed at Woodlands.

'She describes how immediately upon meeting the defendant he made her feel uncomfortable, describing him as 'letchy',' said Mr Renvoize.

'She describes he would come into her room and get his penis out while putting his hand under the covers.

'Eventually this behaviour escalated into rape. [She] remembers the first time it happened the defendant came into her room and she pretended to be asleep.'

Another girl joined the home aged 11. She stayed there around two years.

'She remembers attending a six-month review meeting at the home when she was 12 years old,' Mr Renvoize said. 'After the review she was standing in the corridor crying. The defendant called her into his office and told her to give him a cuddle. He invited her to sit on his knee and when she sat down he touched her.'

Another boy spent two stints at Woodlands.

Mr Renvoize said: 'It was during the second of these stints at Woodland that he was subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of the defendant.'

He said he was 12 or 13 when the abuse started.

In interview in 2013, and later in 2015, Hewitt said he 'could not recall ever staying overnight with a child' because he had other duties at the home.

He said he could not recall any of his accusers except one, and denied any allegations of sexual abuse.

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

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter