Former teachers appear in court accused of child abuse at boarding school

·3-min read
L-R Marie Handy, David Skyes and Charmaine James all stand accused of a conspiracy to abuse children at Rhydd Court School. (SWNS)
L-R Marie Handy, David Skyes and Charmaine James all stand accused of a conspiracy to abuse children at Rhydd Court School. (SWNS)

Eight people have appeared in court accused of child cruelty and sexual abuse at a boarding school over more than a decade.

The defendants were charged in connection with the alleged sex abuse scandal at Rhydd Court School, in Worcestershire, between the late 1970s and early 1990s.

In total, five men and three women, aged between 51 and 82, appeared before Worcester Magistrates Court on Thursday.

They are charged with conspiracy to commit child cruelty - to assault, ill-treat, neglect or abandon a child to cause unnecessary suffering or injury between 1979 and 1991.

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WORCESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 28:  General view of Worcester Crown Court where six men and one woman are appearing after being charged for an acid attack on a 3-year-old on August 28, 2018 in Worcester, England. They appear charged with conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm over an acid attack on a three-year-old child on July 21 at Home Bargains on Shrub Hill Retail Park, Tallow Hill, Worcester. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
Unconditional bail was granted to all eight defendants until the next hearing at Worcester Crown Court. (PA)

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Each also faces a series of other individual charges ranging from indecent assault, conspiring to commit sexual offences and gross indecency.

The defendants spoke only to confirm their dates of birth and addresses during the short hearing where no pleas were entered or indicated.

Unconditional bail was granted to all eight defendants until the next hearing at Worcester Crown Court on 31 August.

The charges follow an investigation by West Mercia Police into allegations at a time when the local authority owned the premises.

The accused include:

Anita Gunning, 59, of Plymouth, is charged with conspiring to indecently assault a boy under 14 and indecently assaulting the same boy in a tent between 1987 and 1991.

She is also accused of indecently assaulting a second boy under 14 between January and October 1990.

Cynthia Moore, 81, of Bude, Cornwall, is charged with conspiring to commit a sexual offence with a boy under the age of 16 between January 1990 and July 1991.

She also faces charges of conspiring to indecently assault a boy under 16 and child cruelty between 1987 and 1991.

Marie Handy, 51, of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, is accused of indecently assaulting a boy under 14 between September 1987 and July 1991.

Michael Connor, 69, of Wakefield, is charged with two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm between 1987 and 1991.

He also faces one count of indecent assault and conspiring to commit a sexual offence and conspiring to commit indecent assault.

Terence Heath, 74, of Hanley Castle, Worcestershire is accused of two counts of conspiring to commit a sexual offence and two indecent assaults between 1987 and 1990.

John Dixon, 82, of Skegness, Lincolnshire, is accused of conspiracy to commit child cruelty, two charges of conspiring to commit a sexual offence, four sexual offences and six indecent assaults.

These offences cover a period between 1989 and 1991 and are said by the prosecution to involve both adults and boys under 16.

David Sykes, 76, of Rotherham, is accused of wounding/inflicting grievous bodily harm in an alleged assault said to have involved a perforated eardrum.

He is also accused of indecently assaulting a boy under 16 between June 1987 and February 1990.

Charmaine James, 62, of Buckie, Scotland, is charged with gross indecency with a boy under 14 and two indecent assaults on a boy aged under 16 and a man aged over 16.

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