Now police probe ‘suspicious’ deaths at hospital where children were sexually abused after being drugged
- Police are now investigating a series of suspicious deaths at Aston Hall hospital
- More than 100 people say they were victims of abuse at the Derbyshire hospital
- It emerged that as many seven patients drowned trying to escape the facility
- Child patients at Aston Hall were drugged before they were sexually abused
Police are to investigate a series of ‘suspicious’ deaths at a hospital where children were sexually abused after being given drugs that left them in a zombie-like state.
More than 100 have come forward to say they were victims of horrific abuses at Aston Hall hospital in Derbyshire.
A police report last week concluded that if Dr Kenneth Milner, the psychiatrist who ran the institution, were still alive, there would be enough evidence to arrest him over allegations of rape and child cruelty against patients as young as ten.
Reports have emerged that as many as seven patients drowned while trying to escape Aston Hall hospital in Derbyshire (pictured)
Now officers are to examine a number of deaths after it emerged that as many as seven patients drowned trying to escape from the hospital.
They include Barry Wright, whose death in 1959 was not reported to his family until two weeks later, by which time he had been buried in an unmarked grave.
Dr Kenneth Milner (pictured), the psychiatrist who ran the institution, would have faced rape and child cruelty charges if he was alive
Newspaper cuttings from the time report that Mr Wright, 24, was found in the River Trent on August 30, 1959. An inquest recorded an open verdict.
Police and Dr Milner said his family were not informed immediately because he could not be identified, despite the fact that he was wearing Aston Hall overalls.
His mother Gertrude, from Nottingham, said at the time: ‘It seems incredible they were unable to identify him.’
Mr Wright’s brother Leonard, now 80, of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, said: ‘He went in there [Aston Hall] and we never saw him again. We were told he had drowned.’
Three years after Mr Wright’s death, three patients who were part of a working party in the grounds of the hospital drowned together. Roy Orton, a farm worker aged 38 at the time, said he chased the men on his tractor and they seemed to panic before stepping into the Trent at Aston in 1962.
‘They just walked forward – the water reached up to their chests, then up to their necks, and they continued walking until they disappeared,’ he said.
Barbara O’Hare, 59 (pictured), said she was abused at Aston Hall at the age of 12 in 1971
Police believe John Wigley, 22, James Holden, 25, and Terence Comer, 19, all drowned.
One of the first drownings appears to have been in 1937, before Dr Milner took charge. Gerald Rogers, 16, drowned while trying to avoid capture after escaping from the hospital, an inquest found.
Witnesses said the boy, who was a strong swimmer and an athlete, was caught in a whirlpool after jumping into the river while being chased by police and farmworkers. He had no known family.
Patients were injected with sodium amytal, a barbiturate derivative with sedative-hypnotic properties
Aston Hall opened as a hospital for people with learning difficulties in 1925 and later became a centre for children with mental health issues.
Dr Milner, who previously worked at Broadmoor and Rampton psychiatric hospitals, ran Aston Hall for three decades until 1975, when he died.
During this time he carried out ‘narco analysis’, which involved interviewing patients in a drug-induced state ‘to recall and disclose thoughts and feelings they would normally conceal’.
The victims – who were sent to the hospital from children’s homes, courts and troubled families – described it as being like something out of a horror film.
Barbara O’Hare, 59, who was abused at Aston Hall when she was 12 in 1971, said: ‘It is very suspicious. Two sisters drowned as well. The police need to look at all the deaths.
‘There were no medical doctors at Aston Hall, no facilities to resuscitate. Did something go wrong during the experiments? Or were these people so drugged up they just wandered into the water?’
Stephen Edwards, of law firm Bond Turner, which is representing 55 former child patients from Aston Hall, said: ‘It is very concerning and the police should open an investigation.’
Detective Chief Superintendent Kem Mehmet, of Derbyshire Police, said: ‘As further information is received by our team, lines of inquiry will continue to be investigated.’