Victims of sex abuser, ex-relief house master Nigel Pipe, endured years of silent torture as they hid his awful crimes from the world and lived, on the surface, normal lives.
Those wretched memories at the hands of Pipe never went away. They turned into awful nightmares.
Those who were victims of his childhood sex attacks or indecent assaults, believed they would never speak of what he did or be believed.
But then police came knocking on the door or they reported the abuse themselves. He was brought to trial and convicted of 27 charges concerning five boys – four still alive to see justice done.
Pipe, now 87, of Llanwenarth View, Govilon, Abergavenny, showed no emotion as he sat in a dock at Nottingham Crown Court, clutching the handle of his wooden walking stick in front of him, as he was sentenced to 26 years after he abused his vulnerable victims at Skegby Hall approved school, Sutton-in-Ashfield.
Reading his victim impact statement, one of the victim’s told the court, on Thursday, October 14, how the first time he had actually thought about what happened to him was when a detective came to see him two years ago.
But the abuse had always been on his conscience.
“All my sleep since has been full of nightmares since my time at Skegby Hall,” he said. “I have had nightmares every night”.
He said the last two years of his life had been “Hell, absolute, Hell”.
“There have been times when I have been driving and I had thought of driving straight into a wall”.
A second victim, reading his statement, told Pipe: “You took my childhood away and made me feel ashamed”.
The years under Pipe’s control had left him with demons and “I can only hope now, at your sentencing, to put this to rest and say ‘sorry’ to my mum at her grave this weekend. I will never forgive you”.
Another statement revealed a third victim, after leaving the residential approved school, was never the same again.
A fourth statement revealed: “Up until I spoke about Nigel Pipe, I had never told a single person what he had done to me, not my family or friends”.
After listening to six weeks of evidence – including a video testimony from the victim who died – a jury found him guilty on Tuesday, October 12, of a total of 27 charges – four counts of a serious sexual offence, nine counts of indecency with a child, and 14 counts of indecent assault.
“The reality is he will die in prison”
Barrister Mark Barlow said of Pipe, who he represented “The reality is he will die in prison”
Judge Julie Warburton told Pipe the boys he abused were aged between ten and 15 years and they were in a particularly vulnerable situation and isolated.
The majority of incidents were overnight when the victims were removed from their beds after lights our and taken to a remote location, such as a staff room or Pipe’s private quarters. Other incidents were in the day when the opportunity arose or on trips away from school.
Skegby Hall was an approved school operated by Nottinghamshire County Council. Boys as young as eight-years-old could be sent there by a court if they were deemed beyond parental control, or had committed minor criminal offences.
The boys could then be kept there until they were 15-years-old, unless a review panel considered they were ready to return to society and their home circumstances were considered suitable for their care and control.
Pipe worked in the school as a relief housemaster and would be in charge of the boys when they were outside of lessons and when the permanent housemasters were away or off duty.
This included being in charge of the boys when they had been put to bed as the on duty member of staff.
Welcoming the conviction, Colin Pettigrew, Corporate Director for Children and Young People’s Services at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “I would like to pay tribute to the courage and tenacity of Pipe’s victims who have waited many decades, and for far too long, for their abuse to be heard and to be believed in court. Without their bravery in speaking out, Pipe would not have received this substantial custodial sentence that he justly deserves.
“I am appalled by the abuse that Pipe, whilst in a position of trust, inflicted on these children in the 1960s. I am deeply sorry for the experiences they suffered when they were children in the council’s care, when they should have been safe and, patently, were not.
“On behalf of the Council, I would wish to offer each of them an apology and if they would like that in person that can be arranged. What happened to them will never be forgotten by this council.
Mr Pettigrew went on to say: “We will continue to listen to anyone who comes forward with allegations of abuse. We will do everything possible to keep children and young people in our care safe, both now and in the future, to protect them from individuals who seek to harm them.”
Detective Constable Neil Beddoe, who worked on Nottinghamshire Police’s Public Protection team, said:
“Pipe was a manipulative sex offender, who was actually known to pupils at the time for being mild-mannered and kind. Sadly, he used this popularity to systematically target vulnerable boys over a period of several years.
“His victims were vulnerable children who had mostly had extremely challenging lives up to that point. As part of an institution tasked with helping to improve their lives, Pipe was placed into a sacred position of trust that he then abused in the most appalling way imaginable.
“Until you have met and interviewed victims of childhood sexual abuse it is difficult to understand just how damaging these acts can be. These men have all had to live with the burden of what happened to them as children and have in many cases experienced considerable challenges in their adult lives as a result.
“As they have struggled Pipe has enjoyed a full and productive life – hiding behind a shield of respectability as a family man. It was from behind this shield that he sought to discredit his victims, describing them as ‘devious and delinquent.’
“Hundreds of hours of detectives’ time have gone into this prosecution, not only to bring him to justice, but also to provide a degree of comfort and closure to those victims.
“Each of them has acted with remarkable calm and dignity during this process and also displayed considerable courage in recounting their experiences to the court. I would like to pay tribute to them and thank them all on behalf of Nottinghamshire Police for making this prosecution possible.
“Finally I would like to reach out to other victims of historic sexual abuse. It really doesn’t matter how long-ago offences happened; what matters is that they happened at all. If you come to us with an allegation we will investigate, we will follow the evidence and we will bring criminal charges if we can.”
Where to get help if you have been a victim of sexual abuse
Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) – known locally as the Topaz Centre
The Topaz Centre provides crisis support for adults who have been sexually assaulted or raped, including forensic examinations and access to healthcare and follow on support.
Tel: 0800 085 9993 (24 hour)