Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Wednesday, 12 November 2008

'No child murders' in Jersey home


Police doubt that any of the articles they have examined point to evidence of abuse or murder

Detectives probing alleged abuse at a Jersey children's home have said no-one was murdered there and previously released evidence had been inaccurate.

The Deputy Chief Officer, David Warcup, said there was no evidence that any children had been murdered or bodies destroyed at the former home.

Police are investigating abuse claims centring on Haut de la Garenne home.

Former police chief Lenny Harper said he was "surprised" by the comments, which misrepresented what he had said.

Mr Warcup expressed "much regret" at "misleading" information released by his predecessor on items found at the property.

Detectives said only three of the bone fragments found could be human, and two of these were hundreds of years old.

Detective Superintendent Michael Gradwell then discredited a number of the claims made about the operation by the island's former deputy chief officer, Lenny Harper.

• After being examined by experts from the British Museum, a fragment thought to have been from a skull turned out to be a piece of Victorian coconut shell.

• "Shackles" found in rubble turned out to be "a rusty piece of metal", and there was no evidence to suggest it had been used for anything suspicious.

• There was no blood in the cellar, and the bath blood was said to have been found in had not been used since 1920.

• The "secret underground chambers" were just holes in the floor, "not dungeons or cellars".

• Most of the 170 pieces of bone found in the search came from animals. Three were human and two of these dated from between 1470-1670 and 1650-1950 respectively.

Mr Warcup said: "Our assessment is that the forensic recoveries do not indicate that there have been murders of children or other persons at Haut de la Garenne.

"Nor do we believe that the evidence indicates that bodies have been destroyed, buried or hidden at Haut de la Garenne.

"It's very unfortunate and I very much regret that information was put into the public domain by the States of Jersey police about certain finds at Haut de la Garenne, which was not strictly accurate."

The investigation into the home had cost "just over 4m", Mr Warcup added.

Mr Gradwell said the child abuse inquiry would continue.

He said: "The purpose of today is to say there is a child abuse inquiry but in terms of Haut de la Garenne, there was no murder."

The officer said he was not blaming Mr Harper, adding: "I am not judge, juror or executioner - I am not looking to apportion blame."

Jersey's Chief Minister, Senator Frank Walker, and the newly appointed Home Affairs Minister, Deputy Andrew Lewis, will outline their response to the developments later.

Jersey Police launched the investigation into the Haut de la Garenne site, which was a youth hostel in recent years, in 2006.

It became public in February when officers said they had found what was believed to be part of a child's skull but was in fact a piece of coconut.

Scores of people then came forward saying they had been abused at the home between the early 1960s and 1986.

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