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'Keep up the fight' - Alleged victims are told: 'Don't be discouraged'

By Tristan Stewart-Robertson, Greenock Telegraph, 15/07/2005

A MAN charged with sexually attacking five teenage girls at Quarrier's Homes had the case thrown out because the papers were missing six words. The Telegraph investigates the fallout for the victims and the accused.

AN alleged sex abuser could face new charges as his supposed victims are urged to have the "courage" to continue with the case.

James Crawford, of 16 Braeview Drive, Paisley, denied eight indecency charges against five girls in Quarrier's Homes dating to the 1970s. On Wednesday, three appeal court judges scrapped the case because the Crown hadn't signed it properly.

Sheriff John Herald had said the case could go ahead in Greenock but was over-ruled and the indictment was tossed out.

Mr Crawford - who didn't appear in court because he is on holiday - first faced the charges a year ago and the Crown Office confirmed it has asked new papers to be served from Greenock in August.

Former Quarrier's victims have called for more support before and after trials, and urged the five girls in this most recent case to continue the fight for justice.

David Whelan was abused by convicted paedophile John Porteous while at Quarrier's around the same time as the girls who made the allegations in Mr Crawford's case, who can never be named for legal reasons.

Mr Whelan admitted he and more than 20 other ex-Quarrier's abuse victims have set up their own support group. He said they can only back each other rather than seek help from the justice system.

But he fears the setback in Wednesday's decision could discourage other alleged potential victims of sexual abuse to come forward. He told the Telegraph: "I would ask the girls to have all the courage in the world to go forward, to continue in the path they originally took and proceed with any prosecution.

"It takes enormous courage for victims to come forward about abuse that happened to them as children. I would not wish anyone to be in the position the girls were in on Wednesday. There could be a reluctance of other victims to come forward. The courts should appoint a professional counsellor for alleged victims. Not one of the victims in my trial had support.

"I believe the Crown has supported the prosecution but it needs to look at the support mechanisms before and after a trial."

Mr Whelan said he and the 'Former Boys and Girls Abused in Quarrier's' group would offer support to the girls after any possible trial.

They can't be in any contact with them before to avoid possibly prejudicing the case.

He also renewed a call for a full public inquiry in what went on at Quarrier's.

A spokesman for the Crown office said: "We are in the process of contacting the victims and their families in this case, to explain the consequences of the decision and arrange meetings with the area and district procurators fiscal.

"Following the Appeal Court's decision, Crown Counsel instructed that a new indictment be served on the accused for a trial at Greenock Sheriff Court in August 2005."

Even though the procurator fiscal signed the papers, it didn't say "By Authority of Her Majesty's Advocate". The appeal judges said this made the complaint void.


'Sympathy lies with the victims'

QUARRIERS chief executive Phil Robinson said: "Quarrier's fully accepts the judgment of the court in every case. Our sympathy lies with the victims.

"We are ready to offer counselling and support to the victims of abuse if it is requested. We are also more than willing to help the victims of abuse find independent social work assistance and counselling. We quite understand the victims of abuse may not want to receive support from within our organisation.

"Quarrier's is a very different organisation today than it was 30 years ago.

We no longer provide homes for orphan children. Today many thousands of Scots depend on Quarriers for the vital care it offers them, whether self-harmers, young homeless, children and families in need, adults and children with a disability or carers."

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