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Two men sentenced for 50 year old abuses at Newcastle orphanage

|News, Sexual offences

Two men who sexually abused vulnerable children at an orphanage over 50 years ago have been jailed today at Newcastle Crown Court.

Raymond Mongan, 85, of The Crescent, Wallsend, and Alfred Spraggon, 79, of Shipley Avenue, were sentenced for numerous charges relating to the sexual abuse of young boys in their care.

The offences were committed between 1958 and 1966 when the pair were working as volunteers at the St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage in Newcastle.

Mongan had previously pleaded guilty to nine charges relating to the abuse of six victims, who were aged seven-14 at the time of the offences. Spraggon had previously pleaded not guilty to 12 charges, but was found guilty after trial of four charges relating to the abuse of two victims, who were aged 11-13 at the time of the offences.

In an unusual aspect of the case, several of the victims had died before the case came to court. However, prosecutors worked closely with police to build a robust hearsay application to the court, which allowed their previously recorded evidence to be adduced.

Jeanette Smith of the CPS said: “In their evidence to police, the victims in this case described the horrific situation in which they found themselves at St. Vincent’s Orphanage. They endured emotional and physical abuse from the nuns in whose care they had been placed and, when the sexual abuse by Mongan and Spraggon took place, they were justifiably afraid of the potential repercussions if they were to speak out.

“For their part, Mongan and Spraggon groomed their young victims during activities outside the orphanage and preyed on the boys in their dormitories when left alone with them in the evening. Understandably, the impact of their offending on their vulnerable victims was significant, the repercussions of which have stayed with their victims for their entire lives.

“A great tragedy of this case is that many of the victims involved have died before this case was brought to court.

“I would like to thank DC Alderson of Northumbria Police, whose excellent work helped us to secure the crucial hearsay application, allowing the testimony of the deceased victims to be used in this case.”

In 2001, a single victim provided a written statement to police about abuse he had suffered at the orphanage, leading to the arrest and interview of Spraggon. At that time, in the absence of any corroborative evidence, no further action was taken against him and the victim's statement was placed on file.

In November 2016, a second victim attended a Newcastle police station to report that he had been abused by Mongan, at which point police took a video recording of his evidence. This man also named another victim, whom police were able to trace in May 2017. This third victim provided his own account of abuses suffered at the orphanage and a full investigation was launched.

Unfortunately, all three men died before the case came to trial; The first in October 2013, the second in December 2017 and the third in December 2019.

The convictions come as the CPS intensifies efforts to narrow the gap between reports of rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) and cases reaching court. Last year we launched our RASSO 2025 strategy, an ambitious five-year programme to drive system-wide improvements in the handling of rape cases and increase the number of strong prosecutions.

In January we published the Joint National Action Plan in partnership with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) which sets out a wide-ranging plan for greater collaboration to improve the response to RASSO cases.

This builds on extensive collaboration across England and Wales, where police and CPS have joined forces to roll out significant changes to shared working practices in order to reduce delays and increase charges.

*This item was updated at 18:35 on 17 May 2021 to correct an error in the Notes to Editors. The names and sentences of the defendants had erroneously been reversed.*

Notes to editors

  • Jeanette Smith is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS North East’s Complex Casework Unit
  • Alfred Spraggon was found guilty after trial of one charge of indecent assault on a male under 14 and three charges of gross indecency with a male under 14 - he was sentenced to five years in prison
  • Raymond Mongan had previously pleaded guilty to seven charges of indecent assault on a male under 14 and two charges of gross indecency with a male under 14 - he was sentenced to ten years and ten months' imprisonment.

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