Children's home abuser was 'sly and cunning', jury is told

Crown Court
Crown Court
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A man accused of abusing five girls while his parents worked and lived in a children’s home in the 1970s has taken to the witness stand.

Former soldier Christopher Hartley, 56, of Denham Avenue, Warrington, denies a catalogue of sexual offences at Harris Children’s Home in Preston 40 years ago, and is on trial at Preston Crown Court.


Some of the abuse is alleged to have happened in a lounge, which had a bed in it for relief staff.


Defending, Ben Hargreaves asked the defendant if he had access to the room.


He replied: “ No, because my mum had the key.”


Earlier in the trial, prosecutor Barbara Webster said the first girl was 11 when the defendant first abused her.


She said: “The defendant was sly and cunning. He would tell lies about the girl to his parents.


“As a punishment she would be sent to her room. He would follow her in to the room.”


Another girl had screamed out when Hartley, then 15, had walked into her room and pulled his underpants down.


Miss Webster added: “Christopher Hartley went out onto the landing and shouted to his Mum and Dad that he had caught her out of her room.


“Mrs Hartley went into the room and slapped her leg and told her to stay in bed.


“Four or five days later he returned to her room and said “you scream and you know what will happen.”


(proceeding)