LATEST NEWS: Narborough man convicted of sex offences in Kent school

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A former child care officer at a residential school for boys with learning disabilities has been convicted of child sex offences.

David Hennessy, 74, of Westfields, Narborough, has been found guilty on six charges of indecent assault by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court.

His co-defendants, 70-year-old Conrad Baker, of Morningside, Edinburgh, and Nigel Putnam, 61, of Slough, have been convicted of 20 and two offences respectively.

The trio were cleared of 15 other charges, while the jury, who completed their deliberations today, were unable to reach verdicts on five other counts.

The men are due to be sentenced next Wednesday, May 27.

All three worked as child care officers at the Swaylands school in Penshurst, Kent, between the late 1960s and 1993, when the facility closed.

Hennessy worked at the school from March 1969. He resigned in April 1977 but was re-employed in April 1979.

Following the verdicts, police revealed that he had been convicted of four counts of indecent assault in 1993.

And Det Supt Paul Fotheringham, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime, Directorate, said dozens of former pupils had come forward to make allegations against the men.

He said: “As residential child care officers Baker, Hennessy and Putman were supposed to look after the boys out of class.

“Instead they exploited the pupils in their care and committed horrible acts over a long period of time.

“The first victims in this case came forward in 2011. But it soon became apparent there had been others affected and officers went to great lengths to ensure no stone was left unturned.

“‘We reviewed old school registers and visited potential victims or witnesses in person across the UK enquiring whether they wished to assist with the investigation.

“After a great deal of work by all parties, the Crown Prosecution Service agreed to charge these three men with 48 counts of sexual abuse on 24 children, though our officers spoke to many more ex-pupils as part of our very thorough investigation.

“Officers heard how some children who tried to resist the offenders’ abuse would be beaten or refused food. At other times, classmates of uncooperative victims were denied leisure activities - to make the victim unpopular and feel guilty.

“Despite the weight of this corroborative evidence the three men refused to admit to their crimes. Instead they forced their victims to appear at court and recount the abuse they had suffered all those years ago.

“We had 65 ex-pupils make allegations, and with the victims and CPS we have put forward the strongest case to the court.

“All the victims were involved in the process and have been kept fully up to date. This is justice for all of them and I’d personally like to thank all those who have helped bring this case to a conclusion.”