Former Eastwood Park detention centre guard on trial for 'cruel and violent' abuse of inmates

Patrick Devaney appeared at Bristol Crown Court on January 10.

A former prison guard at a juvenile detention centre in South Gloucestershire has gone on trial accused of physically assaulting, verbally abusing and mistreating inmates 50 years ago.

Patrick Devaney, 80, of County Down in Northern Ireland, appeared at Bristol Crown Court on Tuesday (January 10) charged with misconduct in a public office between 1970 and 1983.

He also faces two charges of indecently assaulting a 14 year-old boy in 1974.

Prosecutor Mark Worsley told the jury they would hear accounts from more than 20 detainees who will outline "a litany of cruel and violent acts".

The court heard how Mr Devaney worked as a prison guard at Eastwood Park at a time when government policy was to give offenders a “short, sharp, shock.”

Eastwood Park detention centre, where Devaney worked during the time he has been accused of assault.

HMP Eastwood Park opened as a junior Detention Centre for boys aged between 14 and 17 in Falfield, South Gloucestershire in 1964.

Mr Devaney was a PT instructor and it is in the gym where he is alleged to have been particularly brutal.

The court heard how he allegedly conducted games pitting the weak against the strong, where fighting between boys was encouraged and circuit training ended in physical punishment.

One witness, who was 15 years-old when he was under Mr Devaney’s charge at Eastwood Park, described him as “vicious”.

He told the court how he was kicked by Mr Devaney in the ribs during circuit training when he thought he was going to be sick due to overexertion.

In another instance he recalls being hit with a large wooden paddle which left him with “terrible bruises” and “hurt like hell”.

In cross examination, the defence barrister Nick Gedge questioned his recollection of events and asked if he was lying which the witness denied.

Mr Gedge also suggested the alleged physical abuse was part of a game which the boys wanted to play and that he was exaggerating incidents.

The witness said: “(Mr Devaney) punished me and he punished me bad. Why would I lie about it? I swear it. I just want justice for when I was a child.”

Mr Devaney denies all the charges against him and any wrongdoing. The trial is due to last six weeks.