St Leonards Childrens Home, Hornchurch, Essex Child Abuse

The purpose of this article is two fold. The first is to shine a bit of a spotlight on the abuse at St Leonards Childrens Home. The second is to publish some more police corruption relevant to child abuse and this will come in the second half of the article.

St Leonards was a childrens home in Hornchurch Essex around 1950 until 1985, when it was closed down. It was run for part of this time by Tower Hamlets Borough of London. It was also known as Cottage Homes as it was divided into separate homes of about 30 children looked after by two house parents.

Much of the information in this post is from Paul Connolly’s first book in his autobiography Against All Odds [1] from 2010. The second book Beating the Odds was published in 2014 [2]. For reviews see Goodreads [7]. Paul is now a successful fitness trainer and has a website [3]. There are also articles on him in the press, about publishing his book despite not being able to read until the age of 25,  [6] and topping the amazon downloads chart [8]

There is also information on St Leonards on Operation Greenlight [5]  Needleblog [4]. St. Leonards deserves a great deal more time than I can spend on it.

Paul Connolly was brought up from the age of 8 in St Leonards Childrens Home notorious for its abuse meted out to children. People were sent there in Pauls time mainly from Tower Hamlets London Borough, there were also children from other Councils one being Hammersmith. There was a mixture of reasons for children being sent there. Some children Paul says were “saved” from the street as rent boys in teenage years. Many were Irish or black, both out of place in the Essex countryside, as it was then.

When Paul was there, Alan Prescott was the Head. Pauls house parents were Bill Starling,  and Auntie “Coral” which is a pseudonym. All these were child abusers physically, sexually and emotionally. Paul himself was not sexually assaulted, perhaps because of his aggressiveness to the people concerned, but he did suffer physical and emotional abuse.

Alan Prescott Superintendent (Head) of St Leonards Home was a JP, Labour councillor, assistant director of social services in Tower Hamlets and, later, chief executive of East end charity Toynbee Hall.

Seamus Carroll, was the man who prompted the police investigation, called Operation Mapperton, when he made a complaint to Tower Hamlets about the abuse he says he suffered from four to 15. In the court case in 2001, it showed Prescott had indecently assaulted four teenage boys at various points throughout the 1970s [4]. However he only got 2 years jail.

Bill Starling, had indecently assaulted, raped or buggered 11 victims – aged from just five to 14 – over a 20-year period. He was sentenced to 14 years.

A third social worker, Haydn Davies – who already had a 1981 conviction for buggering a teenage boy and who originally faced 37 charges of indecent assault, rape and buggery – had proceedings against him dropped after the judge ruled the loss of video [from police custody] and other evidence from an aborted investigation meant a fair trial was not possible. He was acquitted of 12 charges.

Auntie Coral was never charged.

Paul describes the Operation Mapperton case, which was the investigation into St Leonards. He claims some of the police admitted that the investigation had been messed up and that the police had lost evidence [p233]. Some parts illustrate the life in St Leonards and abuse by male and female staff.

connolly6 connolly7 connolly8 connolly9 connolly10

However the abuse was obviously much more widespread. Even Daniel O’Malley, the Detective Inspector who headed the investigation, suggested there may have been as many as 70 victims – with 30 abused by Starling alone [4], but the figures will be far higher, and as well, I have been told that the sexual abuse was happening in the 50’s and 60’s.

Prescott was the Assistant director of Tower Hamlets Social Services, a Magistrate and a Labour Councillor and was a child abuser at St Leonards. Did he visit other homes and abuse? What action did Tower Hamlets take after the court case? What did his Labour colleagues know? Why did he get such a light sentence? How did the Police lose a video tape and other evidence and what was done about this? Did the Police investigate the 50’s and 60’s abuse?

All I can recommend to the ex pupils of St Leonards is to

  • Apply for any of your records that may still exist with a Subject Data Access Request from the Data Protection Act
  • Form a survivors group
  • Write Freedom of Information requests to Met Police about Operation Mapperton and to Tower Hamlets about what action they took after the court case to safeguard children, any reports commissioned, which is usually found in Social Services Committee and full council minutes

It is only by being part of a  group that you may get the strength and recognition and representation that you deserve. Nottingham and Shirley Oaks have blazed a trail of forming survivors groups and both achieved an investigation by the Goddard inquiry. Help in forming group meetings is available from Voicing CSA [12] eg Voicing CSA Nottingham Meeting [13]

Later in life, Paul Connolly worked as security in brothels. Paul contrasts the East End brothels which were at risk of being shut down, with West End brothels in which the Police either participated or were given backhanders [p147]. He describes some of the clientele of minor royals and MPs, as well as their sexual preferences [p141-6].

The following extracts from the book illustrate police corruption in the West End brothels,  the inadequacy of Operation Mapperton.

connolly1 connolly2 connolly3 connolly4 connolly5

The Police have alot of questions to answer about botched investigations into child abuse.

Added 2016 Jun 29  There is a a 50 page report that Tower Hamlets hold with the title ‘Report on allegations of the abuse of children in the residential care of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets from 1966 onwards’ [14] . They refused to give it to the requestor due to personal information. However I am sure it can be redacted.

St Leonards has also been added to the list of IICSA case studies for the Reparations and Accountability Investigation [15] [17]. As usual the IICSA publicity for this is woeful, and this would have passed me by but for the excellent TED site posting [18]  who also sent me the local paper [16]  as IICSA do not even give the address of which St Leonards and have only added to their website badly,  making it look as it if was a Home in Wales. However there are only 3 days left to apply for core participant status. So be quick!

Added 2016 Sept 4 [19] 2013 Oct 2 You Tube Interview with James Stinson Celebrity Trainer Rises from Dark Life of Abuse to Tell Story – Paul Connolly with James Rick

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. These links are generally UK based.

  • The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.
  • National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups.
  • Other useful sites are One in Four [C]
  • and Havoca [D].
  • Useful post on Triggers [E]  from SurvivorsJustice [F]blog.
  • Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.
  • Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma  [J]
  • Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]


For the books I provide Amazon links to show details. Personally I try and use Amazon as little as possible due to poor moral and ethical choices the company makes.

[1] 2010 Paul Connolly Against All Odds ISBN 978 1 84454 905 4

[2] 2015 Paul Connolly Beating the Odds – From shocking childhood abuse to the embrace of a loving family, one man’s true story of courage and redemption

[3] Paul Connollys website Essex Training

[4] Operation Greenlight  St Leonard’s Children’s Home

[5] Operation Greenlight Brain

[6] 2012 Jan 9 Daily Mail Against All Odds: The debut author who didn’t learn to read until he was 25 tops e-book charts

[7] Goodreads – reviews of “Against all Odds”

[8] 2012 Jan 5 Evening Standard I couldn’t read until I was 25, now I’m a best-selling author, says trainer to the stars

[9] 2015 Sept 20 Brentwood Gazette Billericay dad’s tale of turning life around is now set for TV

[10] @PaulConnolly11

[11] Hornchurch Cottage Homes

[12] Voicing CSA

[13] Voicing CSA Nottingham Meeting

[14] FOI request to Tower Hamlets To answer your follow up questions, I can confirm that a 50 page report exists with the title ‘Report on allegations of the abuse of children in
the residential care of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets from 1966

[15] IICSA

[16] 2016 Jun 29 Romford Recorder Appeal for help in sexual abuse inquiry into former Hornchurch children’s home Romford Recorder

About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
This entry was posted in #OpPaedoHunt, cathyfoxblog, Child Abuse, Child sexual abuse, Childrens home, London, Police, Police Operations, South East and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to St Leonards Childrens Home, Hornchurch, Essex Child Abuse

  1. artmanjosephgrech says:

    Thanks Hope you are putting all new posts on links to Twitter and also to Facebook is you have a site and other social media options

  2. hollie greig justice says:

    reblogged anthor stunning well researched article

  3. l8in says:

    Reblogged this on L8in.

  4. Poppa Madison says:

    Hi Cathy

    This article did trigger many bad memories for me. In fact, as I write this I am veritably spitting at the screen in anger.

    I would very much like to, but at this stage cannot let you be privy to my own story of my 13 yrs of an abusive childhood in Childrens Homes in the UK. The whole organisation which now touts itself as the epitome of greatness in the interests of child welfare was run by the lowest form of scumbags and evil minded bastards that I ever came across. To say to you that even more than fifty years later I still feel that I could willingly slash the throats of any of them I came across, should be enough to convey to you the angst and anger I harbour for not having been able to avenge things for myself against the organisation and those they employed who made life a living hell for me.

    The more I find out about how others suffered, the more determined I am to demand both an apology and compensation! Unfortunately the Statute of Limitations in the UK denies me a court based challenge so I have to go it alone in a direct approach with the threat of public exposure as my only ally in event that they refuse to accede to my demands.



    Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2016 20:35:37 +0000 To:

    • Thanks Poppa, let me know when the time is right for you

      • artmanjosephgrech says:

        Those of us who experienced individual acts of abuse which we have kept locked away for decades understand the difficulties of talking about it and that the need to so can be triggered by reading something or an event. Talking over with someone trained to listen is important especially if the need is for redress and fortunately there is now a range of specialist services and legal firms distributed throughout the UK and where an organisation like the Citizens Advice Bureau will have the information or the Statutory Inquiry re sexual abuse and the Children’s Commissioners for England and Wales .

  5. farthing2014 says:

    Thank you Cathy, I have tried several times to tweet this but cannot, keeps telling me something is wrong??

  6. Pingback: St Leonards Childrens Home, Hornchurch, Essex | Ace News Room

  7. Pingback: Appeal for help in sexual abuse inquiry into former Hornchurch children’s home – Team T.E.D – TrackEmDown

  8. michael gordon says:

    i was in st leonards in the fifties i was abused not sexually but i took quite a few knocks from my house father untill i took part in a film he made then he left me alone i was in wellington there are many stories i could tell

    • Hi Michael. The best thing to do is try and form a survivors group. Paul Connolly was applying to be on the inquiry, It might be best if you contacted him on twitter @PaulConnolly11 or his webpage adn see if there is a group forming. if you want to write your story, i will blog it if you wish

      • artmanjosephgrech says:

        Good advice an underlines my point that by limiting the Statutory Inquiry to one form of abuse there is no hope of drawing the line at some point on what happened in the past and concentrating on future I have just finished reading Not without you by Alan and Irene Brogan both in care of Sunderland Council throughout the 1960’s Children Department days mentioning a number of establishments including Aytcliffe and Stanhope Castle Approved Schools where a key issue was the violence and a lack of general by individual staff which created greater problems than those which brought children in to care and a point I made in the 1992 Guardian article. It is important that survivor group make contact with recognised specialist forms working with abuse former children so that in addition to addressing what happened to individuals law firms can put the evidence evidence before Parliament and Government and also bring to the attention of the separate Children’s Commissioners for England and Wales.

    • Pat little says:

      Michael my brothers Peter and Paul little we’re in wellington cottage I know you’re sister carol in laurel cottage and also in Harold hill how is brother Paul died six months ago do you know Jennifer Davidson she was in the cottage next to Wellington my name is pat little wish. You well kind regards
      Pat little
      07784819662 (Telephone)

  9. Pingback: William John Starling 2002 Feb 26 Appeal Court – St Leonards | cathy fox blog

  10. Pingback: Tower Hamlets – Working Document showing how to get to a full Timeline | cathy fox blog on child abuse

  11. Pauline says:

    Hi I was in the cottage homes fom mid 50s to late 60s and saw alot of abuse. I was not sexual abused in the homes but when they sent me, my brother and my sister out to live with our mother and our supposedly father. I was around 9 and half years of age and for ver a year these supposed parents had us in brothels moving us often into different ones. We were underfed, locked up each day and watched my sister being sexuality raped by all sorts of men (we (my brother and I were in the same room). When I left to come to australia I went to eat london for my files which was isles long I photocopied 4 pieces of paper out of one file and gave up but ironically saw my mother was a prostitute and we had to put our supposed father in jail later on for immoral earnings which is why he sent us out of the homes. We were also subject to voilence and psychological abuse. Nothing was done about it when we returned to the homes and naturally our behaviour changed got more aggressive and both my brother and I landed up in bostles. My sister never returned back to the homes. Im wondering if Paul would see if its a possibility that the pedafiling was also connected outside the homes?

    • address: 7 Graham Place, Kariong New South Wales, Australia says:

      Hi Cathy my name is Pauline Ford (nee Davidson) and spent many many years in the cottage homes in essex in the 50s to late 60s My sister Jennifer and brother Brian Davidson were also in the homes during this time. We were sent out about when I was 9 or 10 together with my brother and my sister (we are all about 1.5 years apart in age) and told we are going to live with our parents (since being born I have never seen her). Anyway we lived in brothels and moved weekly and sexually and emotionally abused and experienced cruelty and insufficient daily food. The homes knew at that time my mother Caroline Davidson was a prostitute (only found out this in adult life) so I cant understand how they let us go with them. The supposed father Sydney Edward Albert Eastoe was put in jail and we had to identify him in the cell…he was done for immortal earnings…he used my sister alot as his means of income.I could write a book as my brother and I were left in kings cross station for several nights whilst he carried out his pedafiling with my sister on the streets. My brother at these different brothels had to let men in until 3 in the morning and I was locked up in the coal basement with no light or food bcos I would not perform for his means of income. What I would like to ask is how do I register for my files….I live in australia and Im vision impaired. Are you able or know of anybody that can help me. I would also like to add my name and my brother and sister to the petition to tower hamlets to give us an apology…and from my mother I am one of 17 children and I know many of my other sisters were raped against their consent at an early age. Can you please let me know. Im now 66 years old and sadly not so good on computers lol. Thank you Pauline (Ford)

  12. Pingback: St Leonards Childrens Home, Hornchurch, Essex Child Abuse | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE : KAREN IRVINE IS EL COYOTE IS SNAKE LOGAN IS HOAXTEAD

  13. Pingback: cathy foxSt Leonards Childrens Home, Hornchurch, Essex Child Abuse | HOLLIE GREIG JUSTICE : KAREN IRVINE IS EL COYOTE IS SNAKE LOGAN IS HOAXTEAD

  14. Pat little says:

    I’m pat little from London and I was in the care home l was in Milton cottage and l know your sister Jenny in Shirley oaks as well as Hornchurch l have not heard from her for years has anyone else
    Pat little
    From Shirley oaks almond house hostel Croydon (Shirley)
    Please email me on
    157 Glastonbury house
    Sw1v 4nt
    07784819662 tel

  15. Pat little says:

    I am pat little l lived in many care homes from late 50s to 60s
    St leanards to Harold hill to Shirley oaks
    If anyone knows me please contact me
    On my email address

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.