Court hears deputy headteacher forced boy to eat food which makes him sick in historical cruelty allegations

Ipswich Crown Court has heard the allegations of historical abuse suffered by pupils at the hands of the deputy head of a Stowmarket boarding school where in one case, a pupil was made to eat food which he knew would make him sick.

The pupil, now aged 42, had informed Gerard West that tomatoes made him sick but was forced to eat them in front of the whole school, he told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court.

West, 71, of Martins Meadow, Gislingham, is one of four former members of staff from the now-closed Oakwood School in Stowmarket who are on trial accused of child cruelty. The offences, to which the men have all pleaded not guilty, are alleged to have been committed between 1974 and 1999.

Giving evidence, the former pupil said that West had been made aware that if he ate tomatoes he would be sick and had “begged” West not to make him eat them… Standing over him, West told the boy, aged about 10 at the time, that he should be grateful for the food provided for him and then stood by as the boy was sick, it has been claimed. West was also accused of physically assaulting the boy about once a month if he answered back or misbehaved…

The trial continues.

If you or a loved one have been subject to abuse please do not hesitate to contact Charles Derham our specialist child abuse solicitor. We will treat any communications with the strictest of confidence


Charles has considerable specialist experience in pursuing claims for compensation for those who have been abused in childhood. His specific expertise means that he is recognised locally, nationally and internationally for his work which has taken him all over the world including, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

He is also recognised for his significant involvement in the high profile litigation against St Georges School (Anglemoss Limited) and Cyntwell High School. These cases involved a staggering number of individuals who pursued those responsible whom despite heavily defending the claims brought against them settled by way of out of court settlements.

Charles regularly features in local and national press and he is often asked to provide his professional opinion and commentary on relevant abuse law issues and developments on radio and television broadcasts. Such broadcasts include BBC South Today, BBC Wales, ITV and ITN News.

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Charles obtained his Law degree at Kingston University, before successfully completing his Legal Practice Course. He trained and qualified with Verisona Law beginning his specialism in the field of child abuse claims. He received his higher rights of Audience in 2012 making him one of the youngest Solicitor-Advocates in the country who is able to represent his clients in the High Court. Charles is head of the abuse team who collectively have secured compensation for hundreds of victims of abuse.

He began diversifying in to other aspects of abuse law and his team are one of the very few in the country who specialise in claims against social services.

He is involved in complex group action litigation and also represents a number of individuals and who are pursuing private companies, local authorities and perpetrators in pursuit of their justice.

Charles has strong contacts with some of the most prominent barristers who advise on abuse claims including a number of QC’s. He also has robust connections with highly qualified expert witnesses he instructs in support of those who he represents.

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