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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008, 21:00 GMT
Child's body found at care home
Haut de la Garenne
Haut de la Garenne is now a Jersey youth hostel

Parts of a child's body have been found by police in a former children's home in Jersey.

Police believe more bodies may be found at Haut de la Garenne in St Martin, which is at the centre of an inquiry into alleged child abuse.

The remains are thought to date from the early 1980s. Police have not said whether they are male or female.

The investigation involves the abuse of boys and girls aged between 11 and 15, since the 1960s.

We don't know yet that this is a murder, and we don't know yet if this is the only remains that we're going to find in there
Jersey's Deputy Chief Police Officer, Lenny Harper

Jersey police began investigating allegations of abuse in November last year.

The excavation of Haut de la Garenne, involving a sniffer dog and ground radar, started on Tuesday when information emerged from the police inquiry.

The investigation involves several government institutions and organisations in Jersey, with the Haute de la Garenne home and Jersey Sea Cadets the main focus of the inquiry.

A police spokeswoman said more than 140 potential victims or witnesses had contacted a helpline since the investigations began.

Specialist assistance

Jersey's Deputy Chief Police Officer, Lenny Harper, who is in charge of the investigation, said detectives "think there is the possibility they may find more remains".

There's no suggestion that this is a current problem whatsoever, and I do believe that children today in Jersey are safe from this type of abuse
Senator Frank Walker, Chief Minister of Jersey

Mr Harper told a news conference Jersey police were in close touch with more specialist assistance from the UK.

He said he was now dealing with a "potential major crime inquiry concerning a possible homicide".

"We don't know yet that this is a murder, and we don't know yet if this is the only remains that we're going to find in there," he said.

He said the search would continue in the coming days, and possibly weeks.

'Deeply distressing'

Senator Frank Walker, Chief Minister of Jersey, said he was horrified and saddened by the discovery.

"It's deeply distressing and a most serious issue for Jersey," he said.

I am frankly very apprehensive about what else they will find
Former Jersey Health Minister Senator Stuart Syvret

However, he added: "I understand the remains [that] have been found go back quite some time.

"There's no suggestion that this is a current problem whatsoever, and I do believe that children today in Jersey are safe from this type of abuse."

Former Jersey Health Minister Senator Stuart Syvret urged anyone who had been at Haut de la Garenne to come forward.

His concerns last year about alleged child abuse in Jersey institutions led to an independent review of child care services by Jersey's parliament, the States of Jersey.

Mr Syvret told BBC News: "It's essential those with concerns call it, or get in touch with the police.

"Having spoken to people who were at Haut de la Garenne, this discovery is not surprising.

"I am frankly very apprehensive about what else they will find."

Haut de la Garenne started life in 1867 as the Industrial School, for "young people of the lower classes of society and neglected children".

It is now Jersey's Youth Hostel and featured as a police station in the TV series Bergerac.



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