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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale Investigation Report

Ongoing issues with Roderick Hilton

81. Roderick Hilton was sentenced on 20 August 1991 to two and a half years’ imprisonment for the sexual abuse of children who were not pupils of Knowl View School.[1]

82. Staggeringly, despite his conviction in 1984 for the sexual abuse of a Knowl View School pupil, the fall-out from the incident in September 1990, his related conviction for the sexual abuse of RO-A14 and the August 1991 convictions, Hilton was to prove a near constant presence at Knowl View following his release. According to Mr Bradshaw, the day he was released from prison, Hilton was spotted with a tent on the footpath by the school.[2] An overview of some of the correspondence from this time demonstrates Hilton’s persistence and an apparent lack of will on the part of the Council to tackle the risk he posed. A letter dated 8 December 1992 from Adele Bebb (Assistant Director of Education) to Chief Superintendent Cantrell pointed to Hilton having been released from prison and camping out on land at the rear of Knowl View. This letter asserted that Acting Borough Solicitor (Mr Lawley) had applied for an injunction against Hilton but sought assistance and advice from the police as to how to deal with the situation.[3]

83. Chief Superintendent Cantrell replied to the effect that Hilton had found accommodation in a different area and ought not to be a problem. Mindful of the concerns about this, he said that the area officer would continue to monitor the situation.[4] 

84. A manuscript note, from around this time, appears to record a report from Mr Bradshaw that there had been four incidents in one night with Hilton. He was approaching children and saying that he would be coming into the school that night. It was also noted that Hilton had moved his tent nearer to the school and that there had been “little action from police”.[5]

85. On 17 December 1992, by letter to the parents, Mr Bradshaw excluded a boy from the school because he had been in conversation with “a local known sex offender” and was encouraging him to visit the school putting the lives of other children at the school “in moral and physical danger”. The local known sex offender is assumed to be a reference to Hilton.[6] 

86. A memorandum of 11 January 1993 from Mr Bradshaw to Mrs Cavanagh summarised the position at the end of the previous term. Hilton had been arrested for a breach of the peace, having waited at the end of the school drive for children to leave the school. He was camping on the land at the back of the school. Mr Bradshaw had spoken to numerous people and understood that Mr Lawley was going to pursue an injunction so that Hilton could not go within 100 yards of the school. Mr Bradshaw considered it imperative to pursue the injunction despite the fact that Hilton had been rehoused.[7] 

87. His anxiety does not appear to have been shared by others. In her reply, Mrs Cavanagh said that it had been agreed that an injunction would not be pursued because Hilton, having been rehoused, was not posing a threat, but that if this was to change an injunction would be pursued.[8]

88. Rehousing Hilton did not change anything. Mr Bradshaw confirmed to Mrs Cavanagh on 1 February 1993 that Hilton still visited the area and was often seen outside the school at a bus stop. He considered that Hilton would always be attracted to the school and that it was unacceptable to have to wait for him to become a threat to take action.[9] Mr Bradshaw’s concerns proved to be well founded. On 7 May 1993, he wrote to Adele Bebb (noting that he seemed to have written this letter “numerous times”) to confirm that Hilton was once again living in a tent in the area and had already stopped two Knowl View children going to the shop “to have a friendly chat”.[10] [11] This appears to have prompted Adele Bebb to contact Mr Lawley, saying that this was “a disaster waiting to happen”.[12][13]

89. In his evidence to us, Mr Bradshaw confirmed that no injunction was ever applied for. This was a matter of great concern to him, not simply because of the pupils but because his own young children also lived on the school premises.[14] No one ever explained to him why an injunction was not obtained. Mrs Cavanagh confirmed in her evidence that it was “inexplicable” to her at the time why no injunction was applied for.[15]

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