TWO former social workers who subjected vulnerable young boys to a campaign of sexual abuse were today (Thursday, April 24) given lengthy jail sentences. 

John Leslie Duncan and Kevin Brown were entrusted with the care of children with learning difficulties at two North-East residential schools when they carried out the attacks, Newcastle Crown Court was told. 

The charges relate to a series of attacks spanning three decades at Shotley Park Children's Home in Shotley Bridge, near Consett, County Durham, and at Feversham School, in Walbottle, Newcastle.

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Duncan, 61, of Hyde Park Street, Gateshead, was found guilty after a trial of ten counts of indecent assault on a male, three counts of indecency with a child, one count of buggery and one count of attempted buggery in relation to seven different victims.

The charges against Duncan all relate to offences carried out while he was working at the Dr Barnado’s-run home in Shotley Bridge and later at Feversham. Both have since closed.

The court was told that in 2001 Duncan had admitted the sexual abuse of two young boys, one at Shotley Park and the other at Feversham and had long-since served a term in jail for those atttacks. 

Today he was locked up for 15 years.

Duncan started work at Shotley Park as a social worker in 1977, aged 23, and remained there until late 1984. He later worked at Feversham and left the school in 1995 after being promoted to its deputy head of care.

Brown, 58, who was already serving a prison sentence, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to five counts of indecent assault against five separate victims.

He was subsequently found guilty of a further count of indecent assault and one count of indecency with a child - against two further victims. He was today sentenced to six years on top of his current eight-year sentence.

The charges against Brown all related to offences at Feversham.

Both men were placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life and made subject to a lifelong Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Lynsey Colling, acting head of the Crown Court Unit for CPS North East, said: “At the time of these offences, the victims were all vulnerable young children, each of whom Duncan and Brown had a professional obligation to protect.

“Instead, they abused the trust placed in them to exploit those children for their own sexual gratification.

“Despite the impact that those events had on each their victims, they have shown significant courage in assisting this prosecution.”

Detective Superintendent Steve Wade, of Northubria Police, said: "These man preyed on vulnerable young boys, abusing their positions as people in authority and trust and I'm pleased they will now spend a considerable amount of time behind bars.”