July 2000

Man jailed for abusing girls

A former social worker has been jailed for 18 months for abusing girls in his care.

Ex-Samaritan Hugh Christie, 55, targeted girls at Hollycroft Children’s Home near Chelmsford where he worked, Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court heard.

He was cleared yesterday of 12 charges – including three rapes, seven indecent assaults, one of child cruelty and one of making threats to kill – involving four girls.

But he was jailed for 18 months after being convicted at an earlier trial for indecent assault and child cruelty. Christie had denied all the charges.

Judge Derek Inman, told Christie: “These girls were very vulnerable and all had problems. Hollycroft should have been a safe haven from their troubled lives where they could have a peaceful period, take stock of things and properly prepare for the future.

“You had a big responsibility to achieve that – a position of trust and responsibility.

“The public is entitled to expect such homes to be safe from the sort of abuse the girls sent there have frequently been subjected to earlier in their lives,” he said.

The court heard how Christie was number three at the home – which is now closed – from 1978 to 1981 and heard evidence from four former residents who claimed they were abused by him.

But a jury found Christie not guilty after he said the stories were made up. He has already served five months in prison and is due for release in four months.

Christopher Sallon QC, for Christie said an appeal would be made against the earlier convictions because new evidence had come to light.

Christie of Orchard Road, Chessington, Surrey worked as a probation officer from 1992 but was dismissed when the allegations came to light in 1998.