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Former Witherslack Hall pupil DID ask detective about compensation, jury told

Carlisle Crown Court

A POLICE detective has told a jury an ex-Witherslack Hall pupil did ask about compensation while alleged physical abuse was being investigated.

Carlisle Crown Court heard last week from the last of four former students who allege mistreatment by staff members during their time at the Grange-over-Sands residential school.

Five men are on trial. Now aged between 62 and 78, they deny charges which allege the physical abuse or cruelty of boys while working at Witherslack Hall during the 1970s and 1980s.

Ex-pupil Richard Rutter said in evidence he “got run over” by a minibus-driving teacher – and was left injured – while lagging behind on a cross-country run.

During cross-examination, he denied asking a police officer whether another former student had mentioned “£50,000” compensation for “victims”.

Giving evidence today (TUES), Detective Constable Damien West confirmed there was such a question. “Richard (Rutter) also asked if I had told (the other pupil) that victims could get £50,000 from solicitors,” the officer’s day book entry of their conversation noted. “I told him that I had said no such thing.”

That chat between Mr Rutter and DC West took place on 25th September, 2014 – two days after Mr Rutter was spoken to by police but before he had signed his corresponding statement. In between those dates, the court heard Mr Rutter called the officer to report receiving a call from that other ex-pupil asking what he told police.

“Richard asked about whether he should contact a solicitor,” DC West’s note from 25th September also read. “I told him this was his decision, and that I was only dealing in criminal matters.”

National guidance at that time required officers to inform people of the existence of a criminal injuries compensation organisation. And DC West stated: “These are the only conversations we would have around compensation.”

Mr Rutter had insisted to jurors while giving his evidence: “I am not here to make money out of misery.”

The trial – which is in its third week – continues.

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