Scottish couple ran brutal regime at Jersey children's home, court is told

A MARRIED couple inflicted "casual and routine violence" at a children's home where youngsters were beaten and had their faces rubbed in puddles of urine, a court has heard.

Morag and Anthony Jordan, from Kirriemuir, Angus, were accused of acting like "intimidating bullies" during their time working at the Haut de la Garenne home on the island of Jersey.

The pair, both 62, face a combined total of 48 counts of common assault, dating from the 1970s and 1980s. Both have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

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At the opening of a trial at the Royal Court of Jersey yesterday, prosecuting advocate Stephen Baker accused the couple of "routinely" hitting children with their hands, kitchen implements and shoes.

He claimed that Morag Jordan, originally from Dundee, pushed the faces of children as young as two into urine-soaked sheets or puddles on the floor. Their behaviour caused "physical and mental distress", he told jurors.

The court is due to hear from a succession of witnesses who claim to have been subjected to assaults described by Mr Baker as "frequent and callous". They relate to incidents at Haut de la Garenne between 1970 and 1984.

The children's home was the subject of a lengthy and high-profile police investigation into allegations of abuse.

Prior to the prosecution's opening, Commissioner Sir Christopher Pitchers, presiding over the trial, warned jurors against being swayed by what they thought they knew about the investigation.

He said the inquiry had been "bedevilled by lurid suggestions" relating to torture, shackles, and children's body parts.

"The truth was there was never any basis of fact for these allegations," Sir Christopher said.

The trial involving the Jordans relate to alleged physical abuse of youngsters. Morag Jordan was employed by the care home as a housemother between 1970 and 1984.

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Her future husband joined in a similar role in 1978. Mr Baker told the jury: "Their job was to look after the children as if they were her own.

"However, they used their job to inflict frequent and callous assaults on the children. This included hitting them hard with their hands or with whatever object that might have been to hand, throwing hard items at them, forcing soap into their mouths and rubbing their faces in urine."

Morag Jordan is accused of 36 counts of assault against children.Many are alleged to have been inflicted on a girl who stayed at the home from an early age until she was a teenager.

The prosecution told jurors that the girl had her face pushed into the overflows of a potty after being sent to a detention room by Morag Jordan.

Mr Baker added that Morag Jordan refused to let her shower and led her back to the cell with "her hair still stinking of urine".

On separate occasions, the girl had liquid detergent and soap forced into her mouth as a punishment for swearing, it is alleged.

In a statement read by the prosecuting advocate, the alleged victim said the soap was "rammed into my mouth so you couldn't help biting a bit off into your mouth. It was horrible", the court heard.

It is also alleged that she was punched and hit with implements, including a wooden spoon, during her time at the centre.

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Other children also accused Morag Jordan of forcing their faces into wet, soiled sheets.

Mr Baker quoted one witness as saying: "She would regularly find I had wet the bed and would put my face into the wet sheets. Morag would grab me by the ears and hold my face in the sheets."

A similar punishment was dealt out to a two-year-old boy who urinated on the floor while potty training, the court was told.

Anthony Jordan, originally from South Wales, faces 12 counts of common assault relating to accusations of hitting children in his care at the home.

The prosecution claimed he would punch or hit them with a metal spoon.

Some of his accusers were only eight at the time of the alleged incidents.

The couple "habitually conducted themselves as intimidating bullies", Mr Baker said.

The trial continues.