Wesham pensioner's alleged abuse at Preston Harris Children's Home "was not mentioned" in police interview with woman, court told

A police officer has told a court how an alleged victim of ex children's care home worker Frederick Wilding was also a complainant in a separate abuse trial involving the son of two houseparents at the home.

By Stef Hall
Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 3:49 pm

Wilding, 78, of Windmill View, Wesham, Preston, faces eight charges of raping and indecently assaulting three children more than 50 years ago and is on trial at Preston Crown Court.

On the third day of Wilding's trial, a Lancashire civilian officer involved in the previous trial involving the home was cross examined by Wilding's defence lawyer, Beverly Hackett.

She asked him about his initial interview with one of the women about the defendant in that trial - Christopher Hartley - who was tried over similar allegations.

Harris Children's Home

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The woman alleges she was indecently assaulted by Wilding in her early teens, when she would get up early and do chores, and during the summer holidays when many children would return to their families during holidays.

The officer confirmed to the court the woman had failed to mention Frederick Wilding at the time he initially spoke to her about allegations involving Hartley.

Miss Hackett said: "If she had, what would your response have been?"

He replied: " I would have researched to see if there was a Mr Wilding in existence.

"If she was making a complaint then I would have proceeded in the normal manner."

Miss Hackett read out a social services document to jurors written by a now retired social worker on January 5, 1999, in which she detailed the woman had made allegations of abuse while she was a child in care.

It said: "These allegations were investigated at the time and NFA'd given she did not wish to make a further complaint."

Wilding, 78, and his wife, Kath, used to be ‘house parents’ at the Lancashire County Council led home on Garstang Road, and had lived there with their two daughters, though it was only his wife who was actually employed there.

He is accused of abuse allegations involving three women and is on trial at Preston Crown Court.

It is alleged he also raped another woman when she was aged 14. She passed away in February before the trial started and jurors had to rely on video and written evidence.

A third complainant alleges Wilding raped her twice after allowing her to watch TV with him and had detailed it in a diary.


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