Underley Hall School was a residental school in Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria.It was formed in 1976 and closed in 2012 after an Ofsted Inspection found it to be inadequate.
The School was run by Derrick Cooper and John Turner and has been subject to two criminal investigations. The first took place in 1997 and resulted in John Wadlow a physical education teacher being charged with sexual offences against children but he committed suicide before the trial. Allegations of physical abuse were also made against John Turner who left Underley Hall in 1985 to retire in Scotland where he died in 1996 aged 64.
Questions were raised about the initial investigation and there was a review of how the Cumbrian Police had investigated the allegations of physical and sexual abuse at Underley Hall School. This review led to the investigation being reopened as part of Operation Tweed in 2014.
Operation Tweed charged 5 former staff members and Derrick Cooper of ABH and child cruelty and the criminal trial commenced in January 2018.
David Hadwin was charged with one count of ABH
James Farish was charged with one count of ABH
Trevor Taylor was charged with one count of ABH
Derrick Cooper was charged with six counts of ABH and two counts of child cruelty
John Studley was charged with one count of ABH
Errol Mayer was charged with eighteen charges of ABH and eleven charges of cruelty to a person under the age of sixteen years.
Errol Mayer did not stand trial due to reasons of ill health and John Studley was acquitted during the trial by the Judge.
The trial concluded on the 20th March 2018 with Derrick Cooper being convicted of one count of ABH and one count of Child Cruelty.
He was convicted on a majority verdict of assaulting one pupil. The victim gave evidence to the Court that Cooper had “head butted me, gave me a few kicks around the body and tried to put his fingers in my eyes”.
Cooper was also convicted of cruelty towards a second child by a unanimous verdict by the jury. The victim gave evidence that “he was subjected to violence in a dinning hall which left him bloodied and forced to wear only a towel to sleep in a below-freezing corridor.”
The jury was unable to reach verdicts on two charges against Copper and they were discharged by Judge Adkin. The prosecution confirmed that they would not be seeking a re-trial on the two outstanding charges and upon hearing this Judge Adkin entered two not guilty verdicts.
Former staff members James Farish, David Hadwin and Fred Trevor Taylor were cleared of assault.
During the trial the Court heard evidence from pupils that they were subjected to violence by Derrick Cooper. Evidence was given that they were “attacked” and “head butted” by Cooper and being left “battered and bruised” after assaults.
Cooper denied that he had been responsible for any violent acts at the school and he intended the school to be “different and better” than others of its type.
Cooper has been ordered to return to Carlisle Crown Court for sentencing on the 26th April 2018.
It is the view of Jordans Solicitors that the guilty verdicts on Derrick Cooper are justification for the action the Police have brought against him. Pupils of Underley Hall School suffered appalling treatment at the school when they were vulnerable children and young teenagers.
It is highly likely that there are other victims who have not yet come forward and we would urge them to do so now rather than suffer in silence.
Jordans Solicitors are acting for victims who suffered abuse whilst they were resident at Underley Hall School. If you would like assistance in pursuing a civil claim please contact us for further information.