Prison Guard Convicted of Physical Abuse Against Boys in Detention Centre

An 81-year-old prison guard, Patrick Devaney, has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail for physically abusing boys at the Eastwood Park detention centre between 1970 and 1983. Devaney was convicted of misconduct in a public office in February after a trial at Bristol Crown Court. The sentencing was delayed due to Devaney’s poor health. He will serve half of his sentence in custody and half on licence with conditions.

Judge Edward Burgess KC described Devaney as “a cruel man” who took “sadistic pleasure” in abusing the boys under his care. The judge acknowledged that the number of victims was likely higher than the 22 former detainees who gave evidence in court. The victims, who have been severely affected by the abuse, were commended by the judge for their impactful victim impact statements.

During the trial, victims spoke of the regular beatings they received at the hands of Devaney, who used objects such as a cricket bat, rubber hose, or metal ruler. The abuse took place in the context of a harsh regime for young offenders, but the jury found that Devaney’s actions went beyond what was considered appropriate or acceptable.

Witness impact statements revealed the profound and lasting impact of the abuse on the victims. Some victims directly addressed Devaney in court, expressing relief at his conviction and the justice being served. Many victims and their supporters attended court to witness Devaney’s sentencing.

Devaney was acquitted of one charge of indecent assault and the jury failed to reach a verdict on two other charges. The Crown Prosecution Service decided against pursuing a retrial. Devaney will serve his jail time in a Northern Irish prison, as he currently resides in County Down.

BBC West interviewed three former Eastwood Park detainees who described the trauma and lifelong effects they experienced as a result of Devaney’s brutality. Their testimonies shed light on the immense suffering endured by the boys under Devaney’s care.