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Traces of blood found in bathtub during Jersey care home search


Karen McVeigh

The Guardian,

Traces of blood have been found in a bathtub in a care home cellar by police investigating child abuse on Jersey. Officers sent a specially-trained dog into the basement of Haut de la Garenne, where it found two spots in the bath.

Initial tests show the spots found in the concrete bathtub did contain blood, a finding which could potentially help corroborate allegations of abuse made by former residents, many of whom have talked about being held in underground punishment rooms.

However, police in Jersey have said there could be an innocent explanation for the discovery. Samples of the blood will be sent to a laboratory in Britain for further examination.

A spokesman for Jersey police said: "Presumptive tests for blood have given a positive result. However, it must be stressed that although the presence of blood in the bath corroborates the allegations made by some victims, there could also be an innocent explanation."

He added that excavation work would continue today but would end on Sunday in order to give forensic teams a day off. It is hoped the team will gain entry to a second cellar at Haut de la Garenne early next week.

The police investigation, which has recently focused on the search for human remains after part of a child's skull was discovered more than two weeks ago, has been scrutinising numerous allegations of child abuse, some stretching back to the early 1960s and one as recent as the last few months.

Police have compiled a list of more than 40 living suspects, many of whom worked at Haut de la Garenne, after talking to more than 160 alleged victims and several dozen witnesses. A further 262 calls are being processed by police.

Among the suspects are people who had "some official connection with the Jersey establishment", according to the island's chief police officer, Graham Power.

Up to 600 people are expected to attend a rally at the Royal Square in St Helier today to protest at their government's handling of the case and to observe a minute's silence for the children who suffered.

2008 Mar 8