A FORMER prison officer has been sent to jail himself after being convicted of abusing boys at a former juvenile detention centre near Thornbury.
Patrick Devaney was found guilty of misconduct in public office for repeatedly assaulting teenage boys in his care at Eastwood Park over a 13-year period.
A judge told the 81-year-old pensioner he was “a cruel man, who derived sadistic pleasure from routinely abusing the boys for whom you were responsible”.
Some of Devaney’s victims came to court to see him sentenced and afterwards described the effect of his abuse on their lives.
Devaney, from County Down in Northern Ireland, was given a three-and-a-half-year jail sentenced on September 15 after a four-week trial at Bristol Crown Court earlier this year.
The trial related to assaults on boys at Eastwood Park, which is now a women’s prison, when he worked there between 1970 and 1983.
Avon & Somerset police said 22 former detainees gave evidence of the abuse they suffered at the hands of Devaney, who was based in the detention centre’s gym.
The jury was told boys were repeatedly punched and often forced to perform extreme exercise, and were punished when they stopped due to exhaustion.
“If he felt the boys had not exerted themselves enough or if they hadn’t followed his instructions, which at times were to assault other boys, he would beat them.”
Police senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Alan Smith said: “Patrick Devaney exploited his position to physically assault those who he was meant to keep safe.
“He worked for the prison service at a time when there was a government policy of giving young offenders a ‘short, sharp shock’ by way of punishment.
“The force he used, however, went way beyond what was appropriate and acceptable, with many of his victims describing him as sadistic and someone who enjoyed inflicting pain on them.
“Every one of his victims has been affected by his actions with some suffering significant trauma which they have lived with for more than 50 years.
“I’d like to praise the courage they have all shown in reporting what happened to them and giving testimony in front of him at court.”
After the sentencing Judge Edward Burgess’s remarks to Devaney were released to the media.
He said: “I find that you were a cruel man, who derived sadistic pleasure from routinely abusing the boys for whom you were responsible in your public office – abusing them not only physically, but also verbally, emotionally & mentally.
“You were the worst kind of bully.
“You subjected the boys to deliberately punishing physical treatment in the Gymnasium, picking on the weaker boys especially – although even those who were physically fit & strong often found their time in the Gym unbearable, particularly during circuit training.
“You regularly assaulted boys by beating them – with your hands, and occasionally your feet, but also with a variety of weapons.”
These included a cricket bat, which Devaney nicknamed ‘the sixer’, and several other weapons whose names struck fear into his victims when he mentioned them.
The judge said Devaney’s use of racist abuse was “commonplace and appalling” and he often divided boys along racial lines for violent games of “Murderball”.
He said he thought Devaney believed he had doe nothing wrong and believed his methods “worked” as his charges needed to have their “wickedness literally beaten out of them”.
Afterwards three of Devaney’s victims told the BBC of the effect the physical abuse had on their lives, with one blaming it for a slide into criminality over the next 15 years after becoming addicted to drugs.
Another described Devaney as “a really nasty, nasty piece of work”, who abused up to 100 boys a day.
Andrew Parsons told the broadcaster: “If you asked 1,000 boys ‘what do you remember about Eastwood Park?’ the first thing they would say is ‘Devaney’.”