Men appear in court following allegations of cruelty and sexual abuse at children's home - The Leamington Observer

Men appear in court following allegations of cruelty and sexual abuse at children's home

ALLEGATIONS of cruelty and sexual abuse said to have taken place at a Coventry children’s home in the 1980s and 90s have seen eight men appear in court.

The case centres on alleged activities at the now-closed Wisteria Lodge children’s home in Earlsdon Avenue South, Earlsdon, between 1981 and 1997.

It was listed at Warwick Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing to take place.

But prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said details of alleged victims were missing from some of the counts on the indictment.

And he pointed out there were also likely to be various legal arguments in relation to some of the defendants.

“Rather than arraigning people on this indictment, it would probably be better if we wait until we have the precise form of the indictment,” he suggested.

But he indicated: “I understand everyone in the dock is going to plead not guilty to what is on the indictment at the moment.”

Of the defendants, Alan Todd, 72, recently of Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby, has been charged with seven allegations of child cruelty, one of rape and three of indecent assault.

Phillip Barnett, 64, of Hartington Crescent, Earlsdon, is facing three charges of child cruelty and Russell Garner, 58, of Orchard Street, Bedworth, faces two allegations of cruelty.

Ivan McChleery, 76, of Greens Road, Coventry, has been charged with two counts of cruelty and two of indecent assault.

Peter Moore, 72, of Winston Avenue, Wood End, Coventry, is accused of three charges of aiding and abetting indecent assaults on a child.

Patrick Duignan, 59, of The Riddings, Canley, is on four charges of child cruelty. David Saunders, 64, of Sibton Close, Bell Green, and David Fox, 74, of Abbey Road, Boston, Lincs, each face one charge of cruelty.

Mr Heywood said a trial date in July next year had been fixed at an earlier hearing before all of the defendants had been charged, but when ‘it was apparent there were likely to be approximately the number we have in the dock today’.

But the court heard that because the judge who was to have tried the case no longer sits at the court, that date was no longer suitable.

So Judge Andrew Lockhart QC said he would ‘seize the date’ of September 3 for the trial, or the first trial if all eight men are not tried together, to begin.

Adjourning the case for a plea and trial preparation hearing to take place on February 5, he remanded Todd in custody, but the other seven men were all granted unconditional bail.

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