Student guilty of repeated rape at Hereward College for disabled in Coventry amid other sexual assaults

A YOUNG man was repeatedly raped at a Coventry college which has been criticised by Ofsted for the ‘worryingly high proportion’ of sexual incidents between students.

The victim was raped by a 23-year-old from Nuneaton who was a residential student at Hereward College in Tile Hill, Coventry, at the time.

Hereward College caters for ‘both day and residential learners’ with disabilities and learning difficulties.

The defendant had pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to four charges of raping the other young man during incidents in his room and in a shed in the grounds.

But the defendant, who suffers from ADHD and an autistic spectrum disorder, and had the assistance of an intermediary during the trial, was found guilty of all four charges.

His victim, who was also assisted by an intermediary, gave evidence from a witness box screened off from the dock after a recording of his police interview had been played to the jury.

Prosecutor Peter Cooper asked him how many times it had happened in the defendant’s room at the college, where the victim was also a student, and he replied: “I think it was six or seven.”

He said it had happened seven or eight times in the shed.

Sophie Murray, defending, asked him whether he ever argued with the defendant, and he told her: “Yes, quite often. It made me feel really freaked. It gave me the shivers.”

He continued: “Before he started to do this disgusting thing to me, he said ‘If you tell anyone about this, I’m going to hit you.’”

He said he had not wanted to go into the defendant’s room, and he was asked what happened when he did go in.

And he commented: “This is something I am going through, and it’s not nice for me. I can’t believe I am in this position now, talking about something that is absolutely disgraceful, disgusting, revolting.”

He said it had been the defendant’s idea to go to the shed, and he had been too terrified to say anything in protest.

Asked what happened when they were inside, he said: “He would then go and do those disgusting things.. and I thought ‘you dirty so-and-so, you can’t do that. Who do you think you are?’”

The victim had confided to his mother, when she enquired, that the defendant ‘has been disgusting with me.’

The defendant claimed none of the incidents took place, but, after deliberating for more than five hours, the jury agreed that they had.

At Miss Murray’s request, Judge Stephen Eyre QC adjourned the case for psychiatric and pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

He observed: “I will have to consider dangerousness, and whether the appropriate approach is a hospital order, some other order in the community, or a straight-forward prison sentence.

Granting the defendant bail, the judge told him: “I have ordered that I be provided with reports so I can decide what the appropriate punishment is for you.

“This is a serious matter. There will be punishment, but until I have seen the reports, I will not be in a position to determine what sentence to pass on you.”

In an Ofsted report published in January it was said that governors, leaders and managers had not ensured the college had met its responsibilities ‘in relation to working together to safeguard children.’

It said that safeguarding incidents showed ‘a worryingly high proportion of the incidents involve sexualised behaviour, and in some cases sexual assaults by one learner on another.’

And it commented that ‘leaders do not have a sufficiently wide range of strategies to tackle this endemic issue.’

But the report pointed out that since the inspection, the college had appointed a new safeguarding manager who was due to begin in February this year.

And a subsequent inspection in April found ‘significant improvements to the safeguarding processes,’ although it commented that ‘progress in implementing the revised governance arrangements has been too slow.’

HEREWARD COLLEGE RESPONSE

“The college is deeply saddened by this case and extends sympathy to the former learner who suffered this abuse by the defendant.

“The safety and welfare of our learners, many of whom are vulnerable, is of paramount importance. We make learners aware on enrolment of the members of our safeguarding team they can approach if they have any concerns or feel unsafe.

“They also receive lessons on personal, social and health education which include topics on keeping themselves safe. We will continue to give safeguarding a high profile throughout the college to ensure all learners are aware of its importance.

“Since the Ofsted inspection in autumn 2016, the college has introduced a number of changes to address issues raised. They include the appointment of a new vice-principal with responsibility for safeguarding and a safeguarding manager with extensive experience in safeguarding.

“A safeguarding team has also been formed with five members of staff. A new Code of Conduct for learners makes clear the college’s expectations, including those related to sexual behaviours on the college site.

“In a report published in May following a follow-up monitoring visit Ofsted reported that the college’s safeguarding policy is “much improved”, that “significant improvements” have been made to safeguarding processes at the college, and that relationships between leaders and managers at the college and external agencies related to safeguarding are “much improved”.

“A new principal joined the college in August with significant experience of special needs provision in further education and is addressing all leadership and management issues highlighted by Ofsted.”

Source: https://coventryobserver.co.uk/news/student-guilty-of-repeated-rape-at-hereward-college-for-disabled-in-coventry-amid-other-sexual-assaults/

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