Derrick Cooper, the former owner of Underley Hall School has been jailed for 20 months for the physical abuse of two boys in his care whilst in he was in charge of the school.

Underley Hall was a school in Kirby Lonsdale in Cumbria. It was a residential school for boys with behavioural difficulties. It was formed in 1976 and closed in 2012 after an Ofsted Inspection found the school to be inadequate.

Cooper, 77, was sentenced at the Carlisle Crown Court today. He was found guilty of actual bodily harm of one boy and cruelty to another in March 2018. He was acquitted of 4 other charges and the jury was unable to reach a decision on 2 charges. As a result the charges were discharged by the presiding Judge, Judge Adkin, who recorded 2 not guilty verdicts. All the charges related to the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Cooper denied all the charges against him. When sentencing Cooper, Judge Adkin told him, “Using violence towards these children was a significant breach of trust.” Cooper’s Barrister told the Court that,

“Cooper was a man of previous good character and had been devastated by the guilty verdicts; he was a man in poor health and should be sentenced on the basis of an isolated fall from grace.”

However, one of the victim’s impact statement described Underley Hall as “an evil, twisted place”. During his trial, one of Cooper’s victims 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”

and another gave evidence that Cooper had,

“ head butted me, gave me a few kicks around the body and tried to put his fingers in my eyes.”

Jordans Solicitors believe that Derrick Cooper’s custodial sentence for the crimes he committed shows how seriously the Courts take allegations of abuse, however long ago it was suffered. Former pupils of Underely Hall School suffered appalling treatment during their time there, when they were vulnerable children and young teenagers.

We believe that there are other victims who have not yet come forward and we would urge them to do so by reporting their experiences to the Police.

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 our Child Abuse Department for further information on 033 03001 103 or request a call back and we’ll be in touch to discuss your claim.

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