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Deputy headteacher forced boy to eat food which makes him sick, court hears

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

The deputy head of a Stowmarket boarding school made a pupil eat food which he knew would make him sick, it has been alleged.

The pupil, now aged 42, had informed Gerard West that tomatoes made him sick but was forced to eat them in front of the whole school, he told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court.

West, 71, of Martins Meadow, Gislingham, is one of four former members of staff from the now-closed Oakwood School in Stowmarket who are on trial accused of child cruelty.

The offences, to which the men have all pleaded not guilty, are alleged to have been committed between 1974 and 1999.

Giving evidence, the former pupil said that West had been made aware that if he ate tomatoes he would be sick and had “begged” West not to make him eat them.

He said: “I didn’t want to eat them. He made me eat them in front of everyone in the school.”

Standing over him, West told the boy, aged about 10 at the time, that he should be grateful for the food provided for him and then stood by as the boy was sick, it has been claimed.

West was also accused of physically assaulting the boy about once a month if he answered back or misbehaved.

The former pupil alleged that on one occasion, when he was caught with a friend laughing, West had slapped the boy seven or eight times until his face was red and stinging, it was claimed.

Cross-examined by the defence, the man denied that he had been motivated to give evidence because of a civil claim being made against Suffolk County Council and said he had not invented his claims.

The other defendants, who have also pleaded not guilty, 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.

Jacqueline Carey, prosecuting, has alleged that West broke one boy’s wrist by bending back his hand, another sustained a head injury by being pushed against a wall and others were slapped, kicked and punched.

Ms Carey said: “The violence meted out to them all was all too prevalent a feature of life at Oakwood School where a regime of abusive behaviour existed.”

The trial continues.


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