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 Former Medomsley Detention Centre officers jailed for physically abusing inmates

 04/04/2019

THREE men have been jailed for more than 14 years for physically abusing young men at the former Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett.

The men, who are all former members of staff, were convicted of physically abusing inmates at the centre during the 1970s and 1980s following three trials at Teesside Crown Court.

Christopher Onslow was the officer in charge of physical training at Medomsley between 1975 and 1985.

Following a six week trial, the 73-year-old was found guilty of three counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH), one of inflicting grievous bodily harm (GBH) and one of wounding with intent to cause GBH.

He was also convicted of two counts of misconduct in a public office, which encompassed a number of incidents in which he assaulted and abused prisoners in his charge, amounting to an abuse of the public’s trust in a prison officer. Today he was jailed for eight-and-a-half years.

John McGee worked at Medomsley as a prison officer between January 1975 and February 1982. The 75-year-old was found guilty of misconduct in a public office and assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was sentenced to two years and ten months behind bars.

Kevin Blakely, 67, was posted to Medomsley in 1974 and remained there until 1983. He was found guilty of two counts of misconduct in a public office, which covered a number of violent incidents, and was jailed for two years and nine months.

An investigation into allegations of abuse at the detention centre, which closed in 1988, was launched by Durham Constabulary in August 2013.

Named Operation Seabrook, it is now one of the largest investigations of its kind in the UK, costing in excess of £1million.

So far, 1,765 men have come forward to police to report allegations of abuse while detained at the centre.

The officer leading the investigation, Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Green, said: “These men, who are all former prison officers, abused their position to cause immeasurable suffering and lifelong damage to their victims.

“We hope that their convictions and the sentences passed today provides victims and survivors of abuse at Medomsley with some comfort and a feeling that justice has been served.

“For more than five years, our dedicated team of investigators has worked extremely hard to investigate all reported incidents of abuse and to gather evidence to present in court.

“We have faced a number of challenges during the investigation due to the sheer scale of the enquiry, the nature of the offences and the time that has elapsed.

“When we launched Operation Seabrook back in August 2013, we could never have envisaged the huge numbers of men coming forward to report abuse while detained at Medomsley.

“We have had a further 89 victims and survivors come forward to us after the reporting restrictions were lifted last month at the conclusion of the third trial, bringing the overall number of victims to 1,765.

“It has taken a huge amount of courage for these men to tell police what happened to them and we have worked hard to ensure they are listened to and supported throughout the investigation and subsequent court process.”

Two other former officers, Alan Bramley, 70, and Brian Johnson Greenwell, 71, were both found guilty of one count of misconduct in a public office. They will be sentenced at a later date.

Onslow, McGee and Greenwell have since submitted appeals against their convictions for misconduct in a public office. These appeals are currently ongoing.