The Christchurch Civic Crèche Case

A City Possessed - by Lynley Hood - Index

A City Possessed - Reviews


The Marlborough Express
October 30 2001

A City Possessed
Book Review by Sandra Carson

A City Possessed:
The Christchurch Civic Creche Case
by Lynley Hood.
Publisher: Longacre Press 2001

This book is physically huge - it runs to 650 pages. If you are a thinking person, don't let that put you off reading it. This is one valuable volume!

It researches the highly controversial accusations of sexual abuse on children attending the Christchurch Civic Creche in the late 1930s and early 90s. Peter Ellis in particular, a homosexual male childcare worker, was accused of abusing dozens of the creche children. Four of these women members of staff were also charged with abusing the children.

The trial of Peter Ellis is followed in careful, but never boring or salacious, detail. Lynley Hood is a careful and unemotive researcher. She sets out the huge volume of data in a very readable and clearly understood manner. When you have read her account of the trial you can have no doubt what the outcome should have been, and you have a very clear understanding of why it happened as it did. She also visits the post-trial history of appeals and petitions.

This book is essentially about the Peter Ellis case, but even if you don't care one way or the other about that, the book should still be read for its fascinating insight into our legal system, laws and bureaucracies.

Hood paints the picture, calmly and without prejudice, of the various fears and factors that made a Peter Ellis and Civic Creche case inevitable somewhere at some time. It had happened in America and in the UK, and what happens there, sooner or later, tends to happen here.

Don't be put off by the size of this volume. Lynley Hood is a consummate investigative writer. She provides a painless way of gaining a great deal of normally obscure knowledge and clarification. It may take time to read, but it is definitely not hard going. I would recommend it as a very good Christmas present and excellent holiday reading.