Cumbria Crack

Alleged boarding school assault claims “fantasy”, says former owner

Former Underley Hall School owner Derrick Cooper, who denies all the allegations he faces, outside Carlisle Crown Court.

[A] FORMER South Cumbria boarding school owner told police historical allegations of his physical abuse of pupils were “fantasy and ridiculous”, a jury has heard.

Derrick Cooper, 77, is one of four men on trial at Carlisle Crown Court. He denies six assault charges and two child cruelty allegations dating back to the 1970s and 1980s when he owned Underley Hall School, near Kirkby Lonsdale.

Three former staff members each deny one assault allegation.

Today (WED), jurors were read a voluntary statement provided by Cooper to investigating officers in 2016.

“I totally refute all of these allegations,” his statement began. He said he even had no recollection of some of the seven boys he is alleged to have assaulted or been cruel to.

It is alleged he assaulted one pupil by head-butting and kicking him before trying to put fingers in his eyes. “It is fantasy and ridiculous,” he responded. “This did not happen. It is fiction.”

Cooper – who jurors heard formerly played volleyball for England – described another alleged assault as “preposterous”.

Cooper, of Hillberry Green, Douglas, Isle of Man, also provided written answers to a number of police questions. Having been asked if there was any “physical chastisement” of Underley Hall students, he replied: “No.”

The trial continues.

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