Boy Made To Strip Naked, Eye-Gouging Punishment At Catholic School

Underley Hall School, Kirkby Lonsdale
Underley Hall School, Kirkby Lonsdale

Westmorland Gazette

“FIVE men allegedly “physically assaulted and bullied” pupils at a South Cumbria [Catholic] private boarding school in order to “instill fear and brutality”, a jury has heard.

The men, aged 58 to 77, have gone on trial at Carlisle Crown Court. Between them they face a string of allegations of historical assaults and cruelty towards boys who had been referred to Underley Hall School, Kirkby Lonsdale, by local education authorities following professional assessments during the 1970s and 1980s.

The school’s former owner, Derrick Cooper, of Hillberry Green, Douglas, Isle of Man, denies six charges alleging actual bodily harm assault. The 77-year-old further denies two allegations of cruelty to a person under 16 years.

Four former teachers and school workers each deny one assault actual bodily harm allegation. They are Fred Trevor Taylor, 75, Lower Park Royd Drive, Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire; James Robert Farish, 58, of Oakwood, Kendal; David Hadwin, 71, of Raygarth Gardens, Kirkby Lonsdale; and 66-year-old John Studley, of Maryland Close, Silverdale, Lancashire.

Opening the case to jurors today, prosecutor Michael Hayton QC alleged that 10 different boys had been subjected to violence and humiliation at various times while at Underley Hall. Pupils, he said, often came from “challenging family backgrounds, including broken homes and abusive parents”.

But while at the school, one boy was allegedly head butted and had his eyes gouged; one allegedly had his hand placed in a woodwork vice and was hit with a mallet; another was allegedly punched and kicked before being stripped and made to walk naked up and down a corridor in front of others.

“This case is about the deliberate mistreatment of school children and adolescents by those tasked with educating and protecting them,” alleged Mr Hayton.

“It is the Crown’s case that, in fact, each of these defendants on occasion physically assaulted and bullied pupils in order to teach them a lesson, and to instil fear and brutality,” said Mr Hayton.

But when questioned by police years later, each of the five men denied allegations of assaults and cruelty. “They are saying it simply didn’t happen,” Mr Hayton told jurors.

The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks. The first prosecution witnesses are due to give evidence from Monday.”



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