Fresh claims as sexual abuser Colwyn Baker jailed

Colwyn Baker. Picture: Mike Gunnill
Colwyn Baker. Picture: Mike Gunnill
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Police are investigating fresh allegations about a prolific Morningside paedophile who was last night beginning a 20-year jail sentence.

Colwyn Baker, 71, will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of abusing pupils at a Kent school for decades. Baker, who kept his dark secret from his neighbours in Craighouse Avenue, was last week found guilty of a string of charges involving young boys following a 12-week trial at Maidstone Crown Court.

He persistently abused teenagers and threatened them so they would not report him or his colleagues David Hennessy and Nigel Putman.

The trio were all jailed yesterday for the crimes they committed during their employment at Swaylands School in Penhurst, which catered for young boys with moderate learning difficulties, emotional and behavioural problems.

As well as the abuse committed by the trio, Baker encouraged pupils to abuse other children at the school for youngsters aged between eight and 16. His “favourites” were known as “Baker’s Boys” and over many years he “ruled by fear” using intimidation and coercion, judge Philip Statman said.

Baker, who told his Morningside neighbours that he had relocated to Edinburgh following “a problem with his job” when he moved to the city 15 years ago, had in fact just completed a stint in jail for abusing a young boy in Kent.

He will be brought back to the Capital next month for possessing and making indecent pictures of children, images that were found in a raid by police investigating child abuse allegations.

Sentencing the men in Kent yesterday, the judge said the case “constitutes one of the worst possible breaches of trust that a court can deal with”. He said: “What the pupils suffered at your hands is seared into their memory banks which they will live with for the rest of their lives.”

The judge commended the victims for showing “courage, dignity and restraint”.

The three men were residential child care officers at Swaylands, which closed in 1994, but their abuse left many victims with life-long problems, according to victim impact statements.

At Maidstone Crown Court, Baker was jailed for 20 years after being found guilty of 20 counts, stretching back to 1963. Hennessy, of

Westfields, Narborough, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, was jailed for 12 years after being convicted of six counts and Putman, of Kings Road, Slough, Berkshire, was jailed for three years after being found guilty of two counts.

During a four-year investigation, a string of former pupils talked to detectives about the hell Baker put them through.

Detective Superintendent Paul Fotheringham, who previously described Baker as “one of the worst serial paedophile offenders of our time”, said: “I can’t imagine what these boys went through. We have had new victims come forward since the trial started and we shall be looking at what they have to say.”

One of Baker’s first victims said justice had finally been done. He said: “He befriended my mum and dad who didn’t realise what he was doing. My father went to his grave not knowing. I hope by coming forward I have made my mum and dad proud.”