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Experiences Shared

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The‌ ‌Inquiry‌ ‌has‌ ‌taken‌ ‌the‌ ‌difficult decision‌‌ to‌ ‌stop‌ holding face to face Truth Project sessions‌ ‌at‌ ‌this‌ ‌time, after carefully considering the Government's guidance. Other methods of sharing are still available.


All names and identifying details have been changed.

Participants have given us permission to share their experiences.

Nigel describes how he was the victim of child sexual abuse and of a gross miscarriage of justice.

For six decades, he has had to live with the practical consequences of this, and a severe sense of anger, distress and injustice.

During the 1960s, from the age of 10 years, Nigel was raped by a group of three adult men. After four years, he tried to stop the abuse by confronting one of the men, who lost his temper and threw Nigel out of his house.

The next day Nigel was beaten by a group of youths and he believes one of his abusers had arranged this. He confronted this abuser again and told him he would report the abuse to the police. This abuser committed suicide the following day, leaving a note implicating Nigel in blackmail.

Nigel was arrested by the police and released without charge. Another of the abusers was also arrested as part of the investigation. He denied blackmail but admitted to having a sexual relationship with Nigel.

As a result, Nigel found himself charged with buggery. Nigel points out that at that time, homosexuality and homosexual acts were illegal and as such there was no age of consent. But he says, he was a child who was being sexually abused by an adult and he cannot not understand why social services were not involved, and instead he was charged with an offence.

The third abuser was never charged, although Nigel says his father knew about him.

Nigel relates how his father and a local police officer ‘concocted’ a statement regarding the matter, using words he did not understand. If he tried to intervene, he was told to ‘shut up’, with his father telling him to ‘keep my mouth shut and just plead guilty’. 

Reports were prepared by the probation service and again Nigel was largely excluded from this process. The probation officer spent two minutes with him in the presence of his father and then privately interviewed his father for about an hour.

Nigel says he was not given access to social services or any child protection group. The only legal advice he was given was in the presence of his father and he felt he had no control. He says that ‘under duress and to my eternal regret I pleaded guilty’.

He described how terrified he felt as a 14-year-old boy in court. The death penalty was still in force at the time.

He says with obvious despair: ‘The offence of buggery was committed against me, not by me. How was it possible a child was allowed to plead guilty to consensual sex with an adult?’.

The impact of the sexual abuse and this conviction was significant. Nigel began petty offending as a child, was removed from his school and sent to an approved school. He believes that information in his files invited more abuse, as he was physically and sexually abused by staff employed to care for him.

He says that as an adult, he has tried to ‘live a normal life and keep out of trouble’ but the injustice continues to haunt him. The conviction has prevented him following some professional careers, because he feels he can only seek employment that does not require a criminal records check. 

He is married with a family and describes how, following a sexual assault that occurred nearby his home, a police officer came to his home and informed his wife that they were speaking to all known sex offenders in the locality. His wife did not know of his childhood conviction.

He says that in his retirement he would like to do voluntary work, but he won’t apply because he is fearful of what a records check would reveal.

The abuse and injustice he suffered have also had a serious effect on Nigel’s mental health. He says he has been suicidal ‘more times than I can remember’. He has had therapy and been admitted to hospital to try to manage his condition.

Nigel is trying hard to have his conviction erased but so far, his efforts have been frustrated. He is trying to have the matter reviewed by the Criminal Case Review Commission and has employed a solicitor. He has also sought the assistance of his MP, but he faces the obstacle of police records no longer being available and the fact that he pleaded guilty as a child.

He remains angry with the police, the judicial system and feels that no one has helped him address the injustice he has been subjected to.

He implores: ‘No one listened then. Please listen now.’

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