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Woman claims she was raped by Norwich children's home manager

PUBLISHED: 16:51 29 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:07 29 April 2019

King's Lynn Crown Court  Picture: Chris Bishop

King's Lynn Crown Court Picture: Chris Bishop

Archant

A woman has alleged being raped seven or eight times by the manager of a Norwich children's home when she was a girl.

Joseph Douglas Hewitt ran the Woodlands Observation and Assessment Centre on Dereham Road in the 1970s and 1980s.

He has previously been convicted in October 1995 of sexual assault and rape involving six children at the home, and 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.

Giving evidence at King's Lynn Crown Court today (Mon 29), one of the alleged victims, now 52, said Hewitt used to come into her room on weekends when there were just two or three children at the home.

She said she arrived at Woodlands after running away from her adoptive home and living in London for a time.

“I had quite a few problems with self harming, so they put me in [Woodlands] and I stayed there for two years,” she said.

“Apart from the obvious it was a really nice place. The staff were lovely, but I met Doug Hewitt when I first went in. He just made me feel uncomfortable straight away. He was quite letchy and not very nice.

“I think it was Easter Sunday I came out of the bathroom and Doug Hewitt was walking up the stairs. I came out and had a towel on and he just pulled it. I don't know if it was shock I just pulled it back up, and he came into my room.

“He was always really in your face anyway. He just started rubbing himself and he shut the door.”

She said Hewitt would say 'you are all glue sniffers and no one is going to believe you'.

“I was scared of him,” she added. “There was that doom and gloom feeling when you saw his name on the rota.

“He was just a nasty piece of work.”

The alleged victim claimed in interview Hewitt had raped her 10 to 12 times during her time at Woodlands, and she had been a virgin at the time.

“He would say we were bad and this is what we deserved,” she said. “At first I used to pretend I was asleep. The first time he did rape me I just remember being really disgusted.

“It was really out of my hands. There was nothing I could do about it.”

“I remember lying in bed pretending to be ill because I was bleeding as well,” she added. “I got to a point where I just used to detach myself.”

She added Hewitt was 'mentally abusive'. She said he was 'cunning' and a 'very clever man'.

“We had pyjamas on a lot of the time because we weren't allowed to leave the building,” she said. “We did use to abscond a lot and that was their way of keeping us in.

Tania Griffiths, defending Hewitt, said the alleged victim had joined Woodlands following an overdose in September 1982, and had since been diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder and bi-polar disorder.

Ms Griffiths suggested Hewitt had left Woodlands by April 1983, and began a new job in May of that year.

She challenged the witness on the number of times she alleged she was raped, and she replied it was “minimum, probably about seven or eight”.

“I did not write it in my diary,” the alleged victim said.

She said Hewitt would always wear 'cords', a t-shirt and slippers when he came into her room.

“I can haven't been able to go near cords since,” she said. “I remember the smell of them and I remember the colours – mustard and forest green and grey.”

Ms Griffiths accepted Hewitt owned a pair of cords in that colour but claimed he would not wear them to work.

The alleged victim said the first person she told about what happened was her former partner, in the early 2000s.

“I was glad I had spoken to someone about it before Jimmy Saville because then at least people would know I hadn't come forward because of an article,” she told the jury. “He was the first person I told and was the only person I told.”

“You were not raped by Mr Hewitt were you?” Ms Griffiths asked.

“Yes I was, several times,” she replied.

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.

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