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Childcare officers Colwyn Baker, David Hennessy and Nigel Putman guilty of historic sex abuse at Swaylands School, Penshurst

Three former child care officers at a residential school for boys have been convicted of historic sex abuse.

The jury of eight men and four women had been out since April 29 - covering over 49 hours - when asked today if they had reached any verdicts.

Ten out of the 49 charges were then returned.

Three former workers from the former Swaylands School are standing trial
Three former workers from the former Swaylands School are standing trial

Colwyn Baker, 70, was convicted of five offences of indecent assault on a male person. He was acquitted of one charge of indecent assault and another serious sexual offence.

David Hennessy, 73, was convicted of two offences of indecent assault on a male person.

Nigel Putman, 61, was convicted of one offence of indecent assault on a male person.

All three were accused of molesting children at Swaylands School in Penshurst in a period covering 30 years. The charges involve 24 boys.

David Hennessy. Picture: Mike Gunnill
David Hennessy. Picture: Mike Gunnill

Prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC said Swaylands was a residential school for boys aged seven to 16 with moderate learning difficulties until 1989.

It was re-designated as a 60-pupil residential school for boys aged 11 to 16 with emotional and behavioural problems.

The school was closed down in 1993.

Mr Bennetts told the jury Baker was convicted in February 1994 of four offences of indecent assault and one of gross indecency involving three boys at the school.

Colwyn Baker. Picture: Mike Gunnill
Colwyn Baker. Picture: Mike Gunnill

Hennessy was convicted in December 1993 of four offences of indecent assault and two other serious sexual offences on one boy.

Baker was employed at the school from May 1967 until his suspension and arrest in January 1993.

Hennessy was employed from March 1969. He resigned in April 1977 but was re-employed in April 1979.

Nigel Putman. Picture: Mike Gunnill
Nigel Putman. Picture: Mike Gunnill

Baker, of Morningside, Edinburgh, denied 22 charges of indecent assault on a male, one of indecency with a child and three other serious sexual offences.

Hennessy, of Westfields, Narborough, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, denied 18 charges of indecent assault on a male, one of indecency with a child and one other serious sexual offence.

Putman, of Kings Road, Slough, Berkshire, denied three charges of indecent assault on a male.

Swaylands School in the 1970s. Picture: Mike Gunnill
Swaylands School in the 1970s. Picture: Mike Gunnill

Only Hennessy gave evidence during the trial which started on March 4.

Asked by Judge Philip Statman if further verdicts could be reached if given more time, the jury foreman replied: “Certainly.”

The judge said: “You must not feel under any pressure of time whatsoever. You must have as much time as you need in these circumstances.”


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