Man sexually abused for six years when boy denied compensation over ‘stupid mistake’


Peter Smith was sexually abused and beaten every day for six years, but was denied compensation on an unused conviction

Peter Smith was molested at an accredited school
Peter Smith was molested at an accredited school

A pensioner who was sexually abused and beaten every day as a boy for six years has been denied compensation due to a later life conviction.

Peter Smith, 68, has suffered unimaginable horrors but an unissued conviction due to a four-year sentence halts a payout.

He is one of 383 abuse victims in the past three years who have been denied compensation under the taxpayer-funded Criminal Injury Compensation Program for unexpended subsequent convictions.

Peter, who has waived his right to anonymity, said: “It’s like being punished twice. I’ve spent some time in prison for the things I’ve done. I am still suffering now. We’re not talking about megabucks – it’s the realization that what we went through was wrong.

“It has to change. You can’t punish people for something that happened to them as a child.” He was just nine years old when he was sent to Stanhope Castle in Bishop Auckland, Co Durham.

The place was a licensed school – a residential facility for juvenile delinquents or runaway children. Peter, whose brother was also beaten there, described it as “a horrible place” where students were regularly brutally punished.

He recalled standing in his yard with a bar of soap between his teeth for an hour when “suds poured down my face and my lips swelled.” He said he was beaten by teachers and that older boys dragged him out of his bed at night and forced him into sexual acts.

Peter Smith at the age of 7


Richard Rayner)

The trauma Peter suffered from Newton Aycliffe meant he had to come to terms with it when he left school at 15. He said that Stanhope’s visit marked his life, saying, “Me and my brother were not angels, but we did not deserve that.”

Stanhope was a Home Office-run licensed school for 105 boys until 1973, when it became a Council-controlled community home. It closed in 1981. In 2013 Durham Police established Operation Midday and 28 victims have come forward. 59 crimes have been recorded, 31 of which are sexual, and investigations are ongoing. One of Peter’s colleagues at Stanhope has received £22,000.

Peter left school unable to read and write. His life went down the drain and he became involved in crime and was sent to juvenile detention centers three times.

Peter was brutally attacked


Richard Rayner)

He said: “I had no idea about the outside world, they just let me go. i was lost They gave me some money to get on the bus to my place of residence. There was no welfare, aftercare or anything like that. You were just let out.”

Peter said police were looking for him because he came from a notorious family. In 1978, after making a “foolish mistake” near a robbery, he was caught and sentenced to four years in prison.

But he said: “This is the best thing that could have happened to me. It gave me time to look and think and analyze what my prospects were.”

After his release, Peter made high school, high school and a degree in sociology at the Fernuniversität, married and had two children. He now lives in the Northeast with his new fiancée.

Angela Cairns, chief executive of Unlock, a charity that helps ex-offenders, said: “Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse fail to come to terms with adulthood. By that time, the effects of their experiences will be with them for decades.

Peter was denied compensation


Richard Rayner)

“This makes it doubly offensive, and false survivors of childhood sexual abuse are denied the compensation they need because a criminal record carries stigma.

“An unspent conviction doesn’t make you any less of a victim or mean you need less support in dealing with your trauma.”

A Justice Department spokesman said the compensation scheme paid out over £153million to victims and families affected by violent crime in a year, adding: “Unissued convictions can result in compensation payments being reduced or withheld to make up for the damage.” to reflect what offenders have inflicted on society.”

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