Pupil badly beaten for sneaking out of school, court hears

Ipswich Crown Court ANL-140617-141524001
Ipswich Crown Court ANL-140617-141524001

A pupil was beaten until he bled for sneaking out of a boarding school to meet girls at a nearby sports field, it has been claimed.

The boy, now a man in his mid 40s, told a jury that he had been wrong when he thought no-one had spotted him and a friend leaving Oakwood School at Stowmarket after lights out.

After his return and getting into bed, he had been confronted by the deputy head teacher and ordered to turn onto his front.

Gerald West, now 71, of Martins Meadow, Gislingham, used what the boy thought was a bat to beat him between eight and ten times on his bottom, inflicting pain which the boy said was the worst he had ever experienced up to that point, it was claimed.

The trial of West and three other former teachers at the now-closed school for alleged child cruelty offences, heard claims that the beating had left the boy in pain for two days.

Despite suffering a graze to his bottom which bled, the former pupil said he had not sought medical help or told his parents.

Giving evidence, the same ex-pupil alleged that West had patrolled the showers to ensure that boys washed properly and had dragged him out by the hair when he was annoyed.

Previous witnesses have claimed that West and other teachers forced them to eat food which they knew would make them sick. The former pupil giving evidence this week said West had made him eat quiche which tasted mouldy.

The man said: “I remember it just like it was yesterday. I can’t eat quiche to this day.”

While admitting that he was part of a joint civil claim against Suffolk County Council being made by former Oakwood pupils, the man said he had not been aware that the action was being taken until he was approached by a firm of solicitors handling the case.

In addition to West, on trial are Stephen Player, 61, of Manor Road, Spratton, Northamptonshire; Michael Watts, 59, of Sellwood Road, Netley Abbey, Southampton, and Graham Hallett, 66, of Aldcliffe Road, Lancaster.

The prosecution have alleged that the four men were involved in a “regime of abusive behaviour” at Oakwood between 1974 and 1999.

The former teachers face between them a total of 24 charges of child cruelty.

The trial continues.