Share via Email Kevin Young: I thought I was going to be killed. Young was 17 when he was sent to Medomsley detention centre in County Durham. He'd already had a tough life — taken into care at two, sexually and physically abused by those who were meant to look after him — but this was something different.
His experience of Medomsley in has shaped, or disfigured, his life ever since. He was convicted of receiving stolen property — a watch his brother had given him; the first he had owned. The police asked if he knew where it had come from.
Could it possibly have been stolen, they asked. He thought about it — well, yes, possibly. He was sentenced to three months' detention. The morning after he arrived at Medomsley, Young was lining up for breakfast when he was picked out of the queue by Neville Husband, the officer who ran the kitchen.
Young later discovered that Husband had asked for his file — he wanted to know everything about him; most importantly, whether he had family who were likely to visit him.
Young was one of a handful of new inmates sent to work in the kitchen with Husband. One, anonymity or silence — if you can't carry out your act without people knowing, you're not going to be at it very long.
And who on Earth is going to believe Kevin Young, the pauper's son, who has been in and out of care, who's a knife-wielding thug, a bully? It was the worst of the worst.
He locked the door, took out the key and stuffed the keyhole with tissues. He was married with one child. In his house I was blindfolded, ligatured and made to lie on the stairs.
Then three or four others raped me as well. A rope was put round my neck and turned till I passed out. Husband was an expert at it. He was a big, stocky, powerful man. In , eight years before Young was jailed, Husband was arrested at Portland borstal in Dorset and charged with importing pornography.
The material seized included sado-masochistic images involving teenage boys. Astonishingly, the charges were dropped. Husband admitted showing the material to boys in his care, but argued that he was interested in child pornography only because he was conducting research into homosexuality. Details of that arrest were written on top of his employment record and went with him throughout his career.
He moved to Medomsley, the smallest detention centre in the country, where he abused boys aged between 16 and 19 until he was moved 16 years later. From accounts given by victims and former staff, he may have abused boys every day of his tenure there.
Dr Elie Godsi, a former senior psychologist for the Home Office, gave evidence in the civil action brought by Young and other victims.
Today, more than 40 years since Husband started abusing teenage boys, more and more damaged men are coming forward to reveal how he ruined their lives. Some have been paid compensation, but they say that's not enough. They want to know how he was allowed to get away with it for so many years, and why the police and colleagues in the prison system failed to notice his abuse or act on their suspicions.
After a short stint in the punk rock group the Angelic Upstarts , he became a successful businessman, owning 22 cafes and a number of furniture stores. I looked up and there he was. And in that split second I was back 20 years ago, with him on top of me. The shock of seeing him after all this time sent Young into meltdown. We need to be going. There's a chase on. I could taste him. He opened my mouth and spat into it time and time again. Off he trotted and I'm left in the middle of York with my girlfriend shouting, 'What are you doing?
Once the memory he'd blocked for 20 years returned, he could think of nothing else. Two years after he had come across Husband again, the police tracked down Young to a bedsit he was then living in and pushed a note through the door asking if he'd give evidence about abuse that had happened at St Camillus, a home where he had been abused before Medomsley. For months he ignored them, but eventually he agreed to talk.
He told the police that what had happened at St Camillus was bad, but there was worse. About three weeks later, a chief inspector came to my door and said, 'We've been after Neville Husband for years. When his office was later raided, sex aids were found in his drawers and child pornography on his computer.
Young was taken to a safe house in York, where he was shown a film on an 8mm projector. And they asked me, who do you think it is there? Ccccrrrrrrrr…" Young imitates the sound of the projector. Remember the old wind-ups? Half my pain comes from listening to crrrrrrrrrrr.
If the police had known about Husband for years, why had nothing been done? After all, they had evidence of his obsession with child pornography dating back decades, and Young had reported the abuse 22 years earlier. Young is convinced the police had held on to the film for 14 years without doing anything about it. Park told police that Husband had also abused him, but they took no action.
Years later, at Husband's trial, Park named several officers at Medomsley who, he said, had made comments to him about Husband abusing him and other boys. A former officer at Medomsley told the court, "Staff knew something was going on between Husband and the boys.
When staff at Medomsley searched his drawers and lockers, they found pornographic material and sex aids. Husband was to continue working in the prison service for another five years. He eventually moved back to Frankland, from where he was medically discharged in On his retirement, managers at Frankland put him forward for the Imperial Service Medal, writing, "Husband has served with diligence and fidelity and should be recommended for the award.
Sentencing him to eight years in prison, Judge Cockroft said, "Your victims were young detainees who you chose to work for you in the kitchen so that you could abuse them. There you caused them to submit to your unwelcome attentions. This was a gross breach of trust. You, and others like you, caused their damaged personalities. Until now, they thought no one would believe them. In , the Crown Prosecution Service announced it would not be charging Husband over an allegation that he went on to abuse a boy in Deerbolt because it would "not be in the public interest".
There has never been a public inquiry into Medomsley, despite the scale of abuse, nor did the prison service hold an inquiry into how Husband's abuse continued for so long. James Millar Reid was governor at Medomsley from to , which covers the time when Kevin Young was abused.
At the beginning of September , he was visited by detectives from Durham, who were investigating Husband. A few days after the visit, he went missing and his body was found in a wood in Stelling Minnis, near Canterbury. The inquest was held in February and an open verdict was returned.
The cause of death recorded was "Unascertainable" as the body was badly decomposed. Some senior figures who worked at Medomsley are reluctant to talk about their time at the detention centre. Tim Newell, a well-known liberal thinker within the prison establishment, was the governor from to , when Husband was regularly abusing boys in his charge. According to David McClure, a former officer at Medomsley, who gave evidence at Husband's trial, Newell "thought very highly of Husband".
But Newell and other governors wrote letters supporting Husband's many applications to remain at Medomsley when the prison service suggested he be promoted and posted elsewhere. Newell was repeatedly asked to comment on Husband and Medomsley for this piece, but he failed to answer emails and phone calls over a period of months.
Martin Narey was director general of the prison service when Husband was convicted in He went on to become CEO of Barnardo's, the charity for vulnerable children. Why did Narey never call for a public inquiry? It is troubling that Husband was able, apparently, to hide his offending over such a long period. However, and speaking after having had long experience of child abuse issues at Barnardo's, I am now very aware of the ability and success of such offenders in conditioning those around them.
In , Husband was released from prison after serving just over half his sentence. A year later, he died of natural causes. Yet the fallout from his decades of abuse continues. Steve, whose name has been changed, admits he's paranoid. He has surrounded his home with seven closed-circuit television cameras and spends nearly all his time in his upstairs office, where he works and monitors the CCTV screens.
It has been the "cause" of his life for the past 15 years and will continue to be so until he gets somebody in authority to say sorry. His story is familiar — like Young, he went through a long line of children's homes, where he experienced differing degrees of abuse, before ending up at Medomsley.
Again like Young, he stresses that abuse was nothing compared with what was to happen. Steve was sent to Medomsley for "aiding and abetting in stealing a car". His cousin Kevin had a stolen car, picked him up in it, and that was that. According to Steve, Husband stood out from the other officers. He'd try to ingratiate himself. He picked people who had no one to visit them.