Bryn Estyn 'abuse claims ignored as accused is now dead'


Rory Sheehan

COMPLAINTS about abuse at Bryn Estyn are being brushed off by the authorities because the accused is deceased, according to a former resident.

Cllr Keith Gregory, who suffered abuse at the Wrexham children’s home as a teenager, says complaints about Peter Howarth, former deputy head of Bryn Estyn who was jailed in 1994 for 10 years for abusing boys, have been ignored by Operation Pallial investigators because he is now dead.

The claim by the Smithfield ward councillor has been rebuffed by the National Crime Agency.

Cllr Gregory said: “We were told if we came forward with evidence there would be no stone left unturned, but people have been receiving calls from the police saying it is being taken no further.

“I’ve spoken to Pallial and they say 45 letters have gone out saying they cannot do any more. Because the man is dead, the evidence can’t be used, yet people were encouraged to do a difficult thing and come forward.”

Cllr Gregory says he has taken up the issue with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales.

“I wanted to know if it had been taken to the Crown Prosecution Service, because at least then they are supposed to send a letter out saying ‘We’re sorry we cannot do anything because he’s dead, but if he was alive we would have charged him’.

“Those who have given evidence are not getting these letters, they are not getting any closure and they don’t know where to turn. 

“Some of them are suicidal. These people are based all around the country. For them to be feeling left alone is terrible.”

A National Crime Agency spokesman said: “Operation Pallial is investigating all recent allegations of historical abuse in care homes in North Wales that are reported to us.

“Enquiries are taking place regardless of whether the allegation relates to someone who is still alive, and could be prosecuted if there were sufficient evidence to do so, or whether they have since died.

“Once our enquiries into their accounts have been completed and the Crown Prosecution Service has looked at the evidence obtained, we have promised to update everyone who has made contact with us. We are currently speaking to a number of people to provide such personal updates.

“Until we have completed directly informing those who reported allegations to us, we are not prepared to provide any further information or detail.

“A public update will be issued after all individuals in a particular phase of our enquiry have been spoken to and we have also sent them a copy of that update in writing.

“While we understand the interest of the public in the investigation and its outcomes, we will always share appropriate information with those who report allegations to us first before communicating it more widely.”

See full story in the Leader

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