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Justice for Victims of Former Terra Nova School Master

By Associate, Personal Injury

Keith Cavendish-Coulson, 71 has been jailed for six years and nine months’ at Chester Crown Court after pleading guilty to 42 counts of indecent assault on 24 boys aged eight to 13. 

The offences were committed at Terra Nova School near Holmes Chapel in Chester between 1973 and 1975 where Cavendish-Coulson taught French. The Court heard that Cavendish-Coulson abused his victims in classrooms and dormitories, occasionally in the presence of other children.

Shockingly it emerged that at the time assaults took place the headmaster was contacted but instead of reporting the allegations Cavendish-Coulson was allowed to resign on health grounds. Anne Whyte, QC, told Chester Crown Court that there had been a “collective silence” and that victims had been “let down by the operating professional and social temperature”.

This case further highlights the importance of Mandatory Reporting of child abuse.  We may have moved forward forty years in time but there continue to be cases of abuse from both past and present.  No parent or guardian should ever have to be concerned when they place their child in the care of another in an authoritative role that they will be anything other than ‘safe’. Mandatory Reporting of child abuse would require institutions who are engaged in regulated activities to report all suspected and known child abuse for independent assessment; making failure to do so a criminal offence. 

Had the appropriate action been taken by the headmaster at the time he became aware of the complaints by the pupils’ parents, Cavendish-Coulson may well have been brought to justice sooner and his victims spared of further ordeals.

The sentencing Judge had sight of impact statements made by some of the abuse victims detailing the long term psychological damage they have suffered as a result of the abuse.  The long term effects of abuse are often long lasting and can be devastating. 

At Slater and Gordon Lawyers our specialist team of Abuse Lawyers look at each individual case so that we can address the whole impact on their lives as part of the civil claim.  Our sole aim is to bring each case to a conclusion whereby recompense can be secured in under civil law to assist them in their rehabilitation, however many years after their ordeal.  We can instruct experts to assess our clients and determine what can be done to assist the individual in the future as well as seeking to obtain compensation for the failings of those responsible for their care at the time of their suffering.

Slater and Gordon has extensive experience in assisting victims of school abuse.  We are currently pursuing civil claims against a number of schools, both fee-paying and non fee-paying, including St Pauls School in London, Ashdown House, Summer Fields School and Oldfield Primary School.

Jessica Standley is a Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in central London specialising in Child Abuse cases.

If you have been a victim of physical or sexual abuse, either at a school or elsewhere, please call our specialist team of Abuse Lawyers for a free consultation and legal advice.

Call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and tell us when and where to call you. Any communication will be dealt with in the strictest confidence. Our contact centre is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers are a personal injury law firm with 1,450 staff and offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Merseyside, Bristol, Newcastle, Halifax, Wakefield, Derby, Cambridge & meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire & in Hull, Yorkshire.