Cumbria Crack

Witherslack Hall trial jury retires to consider its verdicts

Carlisle Crown Court

A JURY in the trial of five former South Cumbria residential school teachers who deny the alleged mistreatment of pupils has retired to consider its verdicts.

Four men who attended Witherslack Hall, Grange-over-Sands, during the 1970s and 1980s, are alleged to have been physically abused by staff members.

Their claims of assault and child cruelty have been made at Carlisle Crown Court during a trial lasting four weeks. A total of 34 witnesses have given evidence during the hearing.

Those witnesses have included the five former teachers, who took it in turns to enter the witness box and strenuously deny allegations which one branded “total lies”.

Jurors have heard that all of the five defendants – now aged 62 to 78 – are men of good character without any convictions, cautions or warnings to their name.

Today (MON), after the completion of closing speeches by barristers, Judge James Adkin summed up the evidence in the case.

As he invited the jury of nine men and three women to retire and begin their deliberations, Judge Adkin said: “The only verdicts I can accept for the time being are unanimous verdicts – that is to say verdicts on which you are all agreed.”

The charges denied by the defendants arise out of an Cumbria police investigation – Operation Tweed – which was launched in the summer of 2014.