Man speaks out over alleged abuse at Shefford boys’ home

St Francis Boys' Home in Shefford

St Francis Boys' Home in Shefford - Credit: Archant

A MAN has spoken out about alleged abuse at a Catholic boys’ home.

Damian Chittock lived at St Francis Boys’ Home in Shefford for nine years, from the age of six until he was 16.

The 60-year-old, who now lives in Stepney in London, said he was severely physically abused and has been left with psychological scars.

“One priest caned boys so hard it would result in broken skin or welts appearing,” he said.

“On one occasion I was grabbed by my clothes and slammed into a wall with my feet above ground. I cannot tell you how evil some of these people were.”

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It is also alleged sexual abuse took place at the home on the High Street, which was run by the Catholic church and closed in 1974.

Mr Chittock said: “I am now falling apart from all the physical work I had to do when I was younger.

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“My mother wrote me a letter, which I received on her death, apologising that I was sent to the home, but it was not her fault. She trusted these people too.

“I now feel an apology is no longer enough.”

Mr Chittock took out a civil action in 2008 and settled out of court.

Other residents of the boys’ home will be meeting on June 22 to discuss whether to mount a class action.

Bedfordshire Police has opened an investigation into the alleged abuse.

A spokesman for the police said: “We have received a complaint in regard to St Francis Boys’ Home. An investigation is underway but we are in the very early stages.”

A spokesman for the Diocese of Northampton, which ran the home, said: “The diocese treats any allegation of abuse very seriously, and if a claim or allegation is made against the diocese it is investigated thoroughly.”

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