A MAN is planning to sue a county council after claiming he was wrongly sent to a special school hundreds of miles from home because he was "educationally subnormal".

John Connolly, 55, was only ten when he was sent to Besford Court school, in Worcester, after been assessed by the then Durham County Council.

Now, Mr Connolly, from Quenby Road, Billingham, near Stockton, is demanding an apology and compensation from the council, claiming he wants "justice".

Run by the Roman Catholic church, the school had strict rules and corporal punishment was an everyday occurrence.

Durham County Council says it is not to blame for what happened to Mr Connolly.

Colette Longbottom, assistant head of legal services for the county council, said: "Durham County Council regrets the fact that Mr Connolly's recollection of events at Besford Court school in Worcester, about 40 years ago, should have remained so vivid in his memory for so long.

"However, there has never been any suggestion, either by Mr Connolly himself or anyone else, that county council staff were directly involved in the events there he describes.

"Consequently, the county council is unable to accept any liability for any alleged abuse which Mr Connolly may have suffered while at the Roman Catholic church-run establishment, there being no evidence of the authority having been in any way negligent in placing him there."

Mr Connolly said: "At the time I was very mixed up. I came from an abusive family and, yes, I did truant, but the council should have looked at me.

"It was a horrendous experience. I was subjected to public beatings and physical abuse. Nobody checked on me to see how I was progressing."

Mr Connolly, 55, has kept the events of his childhood bottled up since he left the school in 1969. He has never told his children what happened and it was only after watching the TV documentary Besford Boys three years ago that he has spoken out about it.

He says if anyone tried to run away from the school they would be punished - they would have to kneel on marbles or their head would be held under water.

He said: "All I am seeking is justice for what the council has done to me. I have kept it bottled up until now but I want to try to move forward." Mr Connolly, a trained auxiliary nurse, added: "I am not going to give in, they should pay for what they did. I have had a meeting with them, but I don't feel they apologised."

Mrs Longbottom said: "Mr Connolly has told us how he has built his life, despite his experiences at Besford Court. He is to be congratulated on his successes."

The Catholic Church was unavailable for comment