Former care worker accused of sex abuse claims false allegations were “ten-a-penny”

Pictured is Derby Crown Court.

A former care worker who has denied 28 sex abuse charges involving seven teenagers claims that false allegations were “ten-a-penny”.

Duncan Ritchie, 71, of Highfields Way, Holmewood, Chesterfield, allegedly abused two boys and four girls who were at Greenacres home, in Clay Cross, and a girl who was at Lindenhurst home, in Chesterfield, during the 1980s.

The defendant told an on-going trial on Monday, November 6, that he had been concerned about false allegations at the time after he had been questioned about a camping trip and he was accused of spending too much time with two youngsters.

Mr Ritchie told the court: “It was just another Greenacres’ thing. They were ten-a-penny. Little things. This member of staff hit me. This member of staff touched me. But this had to be followed through.”

The defendant added that these kind of allegations were regular things.

He outlined there were procedures and protocols but if children were feeling restless or unwell he would go to them and try to calm them down. There was back-up night staff in such situations, according to Mr Ritchie, and there was a system to make sure staff and children were okay with regulations that a third party should be present to make sure false allegations could not be made.

Mr Ritchie said: “We were called care workers so as part of the system we would go and try and be helpful to calm children down or for whatever reason they had asked to speak to someone.”

The defendant added: “I was concerned about the risk of false allegations back then.”

The court heard that if anyone visited a child’s room they had to keep their back to the door and the door must stay open and that children could not be taken on trips alone.

However, Ritchie has been accused of 28 charges including 24 counts of indecent assault, one count of indecency with a child, one attempted rape and two rapes.

Alleged indecent assault and indecency counts include a range of claims including molestation, oral sex and sado-masochism. Eight of these involved alleged multiple incidents.

These claims were allegedly committed in youngsters’ rooms, in a stairwell, on a camping trip, in Mr Ritchie’s car, at a transitional 16-plus flat, in a living room, in an office, in a toilet and during an outing.

Mr Ritchie revealed he was questioned at the time about an alleged incident at a camping trip to Cambridgeshire but he said that as far as he was concerned “nothing had gone off” and he had stated that “it all got cleared and there was no case to answer”.

The defendant was also accused of spending too much time with two girls while he was working at Lindenhurst and police were present during discussions but no action was taken at the time.

Someone also claimed to have seen Mr Ritchie in a youngster’s room while this teenager had no top on but he claimed he had gone to her room because she was not getting out of bed in the morning and nothing untoward happened.

Mr Ritchie said he had visited one of the complainants at a half-way house bedsit because she was still under the care of Derbyshire County Council and he used to visit to pay the rent.

The defendant also denied that there was a culture of allegations not being investigated or taken seriously during the time of the alleged offences against him.

Defence barrister Clive Stockwell read out written statements from two former colleagues of Mr Ritchie’s who stated they had no concerns about his behaviour and were not aware of any inappropriate behaviour.

The trial continues.

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