This man walked free from court on the judges orders today as the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous decision. Maybe they should have read the publicly available Lost In Care Report. Everything below is taken from it. Justice? You having a laugh?
The other main alleged physical abuser was Peter Steen, who has been named by 19 complainants.
Steen was about 36 years old when he joined the Community as a residential care worker at Bryn Alyn Hall.
He had had no professional training in social work and he had been before criminal courts on seven occasions between 1955 and 1965, mainly for offences of dishonesty but on one occasion, when he was 23 years old, for two offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm committed in Devizes when he was acting as a club “bouncer”. In his oral evidence Steen said that he told the truth about his convictions when he was interviewed for the Bryn Alyn post by Streetly, who said that a check would be made with the police.
Steen was transferred to Bryntirion Hall when an allegation was made that he had assaulted two Blackley House boys. The allegation was made by a student residential care worker, Denis Finlay Williams, aged 34 years, who was sent to Blackley House as his final training placement in October 1983. He was assigned to the team led by Steen and on the third day a minor incident occurred in a dormitory when a number of boys became involved in mock kung-fu fighting.
In the office Steen asked the boys, who were wearing only trousers, what they had been doing and on being told that they had been fooling around or words to that effect, Steen punched one of them in the heart area of the chest, telling him not to fool about again. Steen then turned to the other boy and started punching him in the chest. When he doubled up in pain Steen kept on punching him on his shoulder blades and back. The boys were then sent up to bed and Williams observed that both were heavily bruised, or at least their skin was distinctly reddened, where they had been struck by Steen.
Williams described also an incident that had occurred the previous day when Steen had thrown two substantial pieces of wood at two boys (one of whom was punched the next day), who had been playing football and were running because they were late for their class. The piece of wood missed the boys by about six feet but Williams was sure that, if either piece had struck the boys, they would have been injured.
Williams alleged also that on 13 October 1983, Steen had instructed him to be hard on another boy whilst supervising the boy in the task of scrubbing the shower. Steen said “if he stops for one minute, add another day to his punishment” and he added “I want to see really bad bruises on his knees when I come back
We have not received any evidence from the four other known complainants about Steen during his seven years at Bryn Alyn Hall and there was only one complainant in respect of his next three years at Bryntirion Hall. There were, however, 12 former residents of Gatewen Hall between about 1987 and 1992 who alleged that he assaulted them and we heard the evidence of four of these potential witnesses.
Witnesses who gave oral evidence to the Tribunal about Steen alleged that they had been struck by him in the office at Gatewen.
V alleged that Steen hit him around the head, although it did not “really hurt” him.
In his opinion Steen was one of four bad members of the staff and X complained of being dragged by Steen upstairs, where Steen pushed the back of his head against a wall three or four times. He was then taken by Steen into an office and lifted off the floor by his neck against a wall so that it felt as if he was being strangled. About six other members of staff were present, and one of them said “I saw you hit Pete Steen first”, to which the witness responded that he was a liar. X was bleeding from his head and had a graze on the side of his face three to four inches long. He was then taken to his room where Steen refused his request to go to hospital and he was given no treatment. He apologised to Steen, who said that it was his fault but X told Steen that it was he (Steen) who had started it.
Speaking more generally, Steen volunteered that he (Steen) was the so-called bastard of the unit and said that some of the boys did call him that. He was the “trouble-shooter” at Bryntirion and Gatewen but not at Bryn Alyn. He did become angry with boys from time to time. Of V, who alleged that he had been struck by Steen, the latter said that he was regarded as a loveable rogue and that Steen got on as well with him as anyone else did, although Steen did not have much to do with him
Two former girl residents of Gatewen Hall whose evidence was read to the Tribunal also alleged that they had been assaulted by Steen. The first alleged that, after she had been tied up for about 20 minutes by a woman member of the staff for something that she had done wrong, she and another girl ran away.
She said that everyone was scared of Steen because he had such a temper. She could see that he was in a temper on this occasion when she was left alone with him in his room and he hit her full in the face, causing her to fall back over the desk. He was shouting and banging the table and said “Get out before I fucking kill you”. The second witness said that at Gatewen she would be slapped for not taking her medication and that she remembered Steen doing this to her. She said also that there was a room called “the palace” where people were taken to be assaulted and that Steen used to punch and kick her in the stomach. However, Steen said of the first of these two that she was a liar, who had made allegations against others that he did not believe; and the second was too disturbed emotionally to give oral evidence and be cross-examined.
Finally, two other witnesses whose evidence was read to us, claimed to have seen Steen assaulting a resident or inferred that he had just done so. The first, who was at Gatewen in the early summer of 1989, said that he saw Steen slapping a boy’s face and kicking his backside. The other, who was a girl resident at Gatewen three years earlier, alleged that she saw a boy who had taken a staff member’s car emerge from Steen’s office with blood on his face and shirt. Steen, however, denied both these allegations and said that he did not deal with the latter incident.
It is not easy to assess the allegations against Steen on the limited evidence before us. It is fair to say that as “trouble-shooter” at Bryntirion Hall and then Gatewen Hall, he was likely to be involved in confrontations with troublesome residents and to attract criticism for what he did in those situations.
One member of the staff, Keith Evans, said of Steen that he had a reputation as a hard man but that it was grossly exaggerated by the young people: he was strong and a disciplinarian, but he was a fair person.
The boy emerged in tears from the lounge after about 20 minutes, no longer wearing shoes, socks or jeans and was then set about the task of scrubbing the floors under Steen’s supervision.
The incident involving Peter Steen and a Plymouth boy was also reported to the Welsh Office by Devon Social Services Department in October 1990. It appears from the correspondence that Steen was temporarily re-located whilst the matter was investigated but the police found no case to answer and warned the complainant about wasting police time: it was concluded that reasonable action had been taken by Steen. The internal inquiry concluded that the boy had misread what had happened and had “twisted it to suit his own needs”: he had accepted the outcome.
Peter Steen, who had no relevant experience or qualification when he was appointed in late 1976, said that he expected to receive training but was refused permission to take the CQSW course three times.