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Jury begins to hear closing speeches in school “abuse” trial

L-R: Trevor Taylor, James Farish, David Hadwin and Derrick Cooper

[A] JURY in the trial of four men who deny the alleged physical abuse of boys at a South Cumbria residential school has begun hearing closing speeches in the case.

The men are on trial having each pleaded not guilty to allegations which centre on Kirkby Lonsdale’s Underley Hall – formerly a school for “troubled” youngsters – and date back to the 1970s and 1980s.

Derrick Cooper, 77, of Hillberry Green, Douglas, Isle of Man, denies six actual bodily harm assault charges and also two child cruelty allegations.

Three men each deny one actual bodily harm assault charge. They are James Robert Farish, 58, of Oakwood, Kendal; David Hadwin, 71, of Raygarth Gardens, Kirkby Lonsdale; and Trevor Taylor, 75, of Lower Park Royd Drive, Sowerby Bridge.

During a trial which is in its sixth week, jurors have heard a number of ex-pupils allege mistreatment by ex-owner Cooper and the three former staff members. In response, the four men maintained the alleged physical abuse did not occur.

After the conclusion of evidence, prosecutor Michael Hayton QC was the first of five barristers to deliver closing speeches to the jury.

Mr Hayton spoke today (WED) of the lapse in time, and a “stark contrast” in court evidence between “angry, middle-aged” complainants, and “avuncular” defendants.

He urged jurors: “Look at the evidence; what was said; how it was said; the general nature of it that runs throughout this case; and then decide whether you find each defendant guilty or not guilty of the charges on the indictment.”

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