All names amended to match the pseudonyms used in A City Possessed
Eli Laurel (DoB ) Age at interview
2.1.2 ......................down when he did wees in the..?"; "So were they [Peter's hands) on his sides or were they somewhere else?"; "Yeah, was it [Peter's penis] hanging down or was it a standing up penis?". In essence the response to these and other more open questions produced reports that allege Peter Ellis was standing up, the child was sitting on the toilet, that Peter had his pants and underpants pulled down and had his hands by his sides. Eli alleges that Peter's penis is "standing up" in response to the suggestive question about this (Note: Demonstration of this is out of camera view as Eli has his back to the camera), he adds "Just going across. (p26)" to the description, but the meaning of the statement is not explored by the interviewer. (Note: The issue of how a child could make this observation and have a clear view of the activities in the toilet is not explored. The design and layout of the toilets is not disclosed, so the likelihood of clear observation of all events is not questioned, nor the likelihood of being seen observing either by the alleged perpetrator or the other creche staff. Further, the question of the alleged perpetrator actually pulling his pants and underwear down to perform this raises the issue of ease of being caught, literally with his pants down, and thus increasing the chances of being discovered in the act, needs to be considered.).
2.1.3 In response to a series of mainly suggestive multiple choice questions (p27), Eli indicated that Peter did not say anything to the children involved, that the urine went only in their mouths, that it happened to more than one child, he estimated five or six and stated that he had seen Peter Ellis doing that "quite a lot of times"(p27).
2.1.4 In an effort to identify children involved, the interviewer prompts Eli to provide information (27-28). A multiple choice question, "Which kid did it happen to the most? Did it happen to a girl the most or a boy the most?", gets the response "Ah, a girl."(p27), but Eli cannot produce a name. Further suggestive multiple-choice questions are used in an attempt to check whether boys or Nicholas are involved (p28). Eli responds that boys are involved, but still cannot identify them.
2.1.5 The interviewer then uses multiple-choice questions to probe whether or not Eli is reluctant to disclose names because of some threat or because he had forgotten. He indicates the latter and is put under some pressure, using social influence, to tell more, "Because I heard that um that it did happen to someone that you know." (p28). Eli responded, "Who? Um, Don't know."
2.1.6 Further focus on 'mean things' that Peter allegedly did are traversed by the interviewer (p29) during which Eli indicated that he either did not know about or did not see any other 'mean' things. As a result, a specific suggestive multiple choice question is put to Eli, "So Eli, um, did Peter, ah, did Peter do anything bad to you or not?". Eli's response is, "No.".
This negative response leads to the interviewer using social influence, apparently in order to get Eli to make an allegation, "Because I heard that he did some bad things to you." (p29). Eli does not answer immediately, but then appears to seek further elaboration, "Like?" (p30), to which the interviewer responded suggestively, "Like,um, Well, what were the bad things he did to you that you don't like?" Eli still is uncertain, "I don't know."
As a consequence a
specific, direct prompt is used, "Yeah it is. When um you know when
Peter did things in the kids mouths?"; " Was there ever a time when
there was just you and him there?"(p30). Eli answered,
"No.", adding "Some other kids."
2.2 Allegation that Peter Ellis put his penis in Eli's mouth.
2.2.1 After a return to the issue of whether Eli feels under some threat about disclosing additional information that the interviewer appears to know about from his parents (pp30-32), Eli is again asked to tell what he had told his parents, "So when you told mum though, when you told mum and dad, what did you say? What did you say to mum and dad?"(p32). Eli reiterated the events described thus far and said, "Um, that's all.". The interviewer again applied social influence, "So I heard, I heard that Peter had done something mean to you as well."; "Tell me what that was.". Eli responded, "He done wees.". This response was then personalised and elaborated in a suggestive question, "wees, yeah, Where did it go on you? (Note: At no stage thus far has Eli volunteered that he personally was involved, or that Peter Ellis had done this to him, indeed he had denied any other things than already previously described had happened.). Eli changed his evidence at this point and said, "In my mouth. "
Comment: The making of the allegation came after considerable use of suggestive, direct, and multiple-choice questions, including the use of social influence and was only made after specific personalised reference ("Where did it go on you") was made by the interviewer. In the writer's opinion, this allegation was the product of a sustained process of suggestive questioning and would be difficult to describe as having been volunteered.
now began to focus on the detail 'of the allegation (pp32-40) In response to
these questions, Eli indicated other children were present (p32), but that he
cannot name them (p33), that it tasted 'yucky', and that iL happened in the
toilets. He used a doll to demonstrate himself seated on the toilet, and in
response to a multiple-choice question concerning his pants, "Were they
up or down?" (p34), indicated they were down (Note: The transcript (p34) records up, but careful listening
indicated the word down).
Comment: The interviewer has elicited a description of a situation in which the child is seated on the toilet; with Ellis allegedly standing in front of him, with his pants around his ankles and his hands at his side (He was thus in a particularly vulnerable position). The interviewer may have misconstrued the child's answers to critical questions, the child has a tendency to be distractible and inattentive, and this was a situation in which non-suggestive questioning was imperative.
The interviewer has effectively suggested that the penis went in Eli's mouth. She does not attempt to put this event in any context by establishing whether the toilets had doors and, if so, whether the door was open or shut, what the height of the toilet bowl was (creches often have much lower bowls for children). No attempt was made to establish how the penis got in his mouth, given the description of Ellis' hands being at his side, or whether the child had to struggle, was forced or threatened if he did not comply, or whether he cried or emoted in any way that one might reasonably expect a child to do under the circumstances. It is not clear whether he was made to swallow the urine, or whether he felt unwell as a result of having to do so. The child describes this alleged distressing event without any evident emotion or distress, there is no notable change in voice or demeanour.
2.2.3 Eli says after this event he went and told a teacher (p37), whom he names as "Debbie" (p37), who, he says, told the policeman, naming Colin [Eade].
He indicated that it did not happen again. (Note: Presumably the validity of these claims can be checked independently.).
2.2.4 Revisiting the allegation (pp38-40), the interviewer asks a series of leading multiple choice questions in an attempt to get detail, "Did it [the penis] feel hard or soft? (p38); response, "Hard, soft." "And did, when it was in your mouth did it do anything, did it stay still or did it move?", response, "Stay still.", "Was it ordinary wees that goes into the toilet or was it different to that, was it something else?", response, "Um like ordinary wees." "Right, have you tasted ordinary wees before or not?", response, "No.", "Was it the same colour as wees or was it a different colour?", response, "Yellow." (p38). (Note: Logically. if Ellis' penis was put into Eli's mouth prior to urination, Eli could not have seen it, and would not know the colour. All children of his age are likely to be able to state, from their own experience that urine is yellow).
2.2.5 The fact that Eli does not necessarily comprehend questions and that he may be suggestible and distractible is illustrated by an exchange between the interviewer and he (Transcript p40).
I. Ok. So where were all the places the mean things with the penis happened?
A. Um. In the park and in creche
I. So the mean things with the penis did happen in the park, is that right?
I. What happened, who did it happen to in the park?
A. Um, I don't know.....the naughty Peter, the good one Peter, good one Peter.
Comment: Eli clearly includes the park as a place where something happened [he had alluded to dunking in the ponds there earlier]. He also responds in the affirmative to the follow-up closed question concerning the penis in the park, but then does not produce any clear allegation, despite further prompting (p41). He may not have heard the specific reference to the penis in the opening question, or even in the second, so it is difficult to know just what his answers mean in the context of the interview. A similar situation could have obtained in respect of his allegation that the penis went into his mouth (see 2.2.1 above).
In the writer's opinion, this interview is, in many of the critical areas, flawed by the use of leading suggestive, and/or multiple choice questions, with occasional resort to use of social influence to obtain from the child allegations that he may have made to his parents, possibly under less than ideal interviewing conditions. The child is unable to provide much in the way of volunteered information, and so the interviewer resorted to the above dubious techniques (particularly in the interviewing of young children) to obtain the sought-after information. It is not at all clear that Eli always understood the questions put, or was attentive during questioning. His behaviour evidences restlessness and distractibility, often focusing most on playing with the array of toy items provided. At some critical points of demonstration with the toys, his back is to the camera, blocking a clear view of his actions.
The analysis of questioning reveals that he was virtually pressured into alleging that he was a victim, and at important points in his framing of his allegation, the interviewer uses suggestive questions. This has to raise questions over the extent to which the content of the allegations represent Eli's actual experiences.
The interviewer fails to establish adequate context in terms of environment, events, and experiences in respect of the allegations, leaving large gaps in the record in respect of critical information that might assist a trier of fact.
4.1 Revisiting of allegations of urinating on children.
4.1.1 The interviewer led into the topic as follows when Eli appeared not to recall the previous allegation, "Right. I think um perhaps I could help you. Ah, cos I remember some things and we talked about mean things to do with penises."(Transcript p4) ; "So what was that about?". The prompt assists Eli to recall, "Um, doing wees in people's faces.". An effort is then made to get Eli to identify children involved (Note: He gave no specific information in the first interview, 92/163). Eli says he can't remember. He is asked, "Were they your friends or not?". He replied, "Ah, no. They're other kids at the creche."; he adds, "Little ones and big ones."(p5).
4.1.2. In response to further questions (pp5-6), Eli stated that the alleged events occurred in the toilets, the children were sitting down in the toilet because they were doing wees, and that their pants were down because of this. He stated that he observed from the toilet doorway, looking through the doorway. (Note: A plan of the toilet area would help to establish just what a child might see in the described circumstances. For example, were there separate cubicles, doors on each, etc.?).
4.1.3 A further attempt is made by the interviewer (p6) to get Eli to name children involved. When open questions fail, she resorts to more direct and suggestive questioning, as follows, "Mmm. Um, so shall I, I think last time you did tell me some names of some friends at creche, some people at creche."(p6); "You told me about Joe."(p7); "Yeah, did it happen to Joe?". Eli responds to this suggestion, "Um, yes, yes." He is asked how he knew that and responds "Because I saw it."; "Him do wees in Joe's face.". The interviewer asked. "Did you?", Eli responded "Yep.". The interviewer asks, "And what did Joe do?", Eli replied "Um, I don't know." (Note: Earlier (p5), Eli had said "No." when asked if the children involved were his friends or not. He had been unable to remember any of the children when asked about it in interview 92/163 and in the early stages of this interview).
Comment: Eli named a specific child only in response to direct and suggestive questioning. This raises the question of the validity of the specific allegation and of the child's suggestibility in the face of direct questions.
4.1.4 Subsequent questioning focuses on the alleged experiences of Joe pp8-11). In response to these questions Eli states that Joe was in the toilets, he saw Peter doing wees in her face (p8), he could not say where Peter's hands were (p9), but the wees came out of his penis (pp8-9), and Eli stood at the toilet door from which he insisted could see both Peter's back and front (Dolls and toys are produced for Eli to illustrate details). (Note: Again, some sort of plan of the toilets would assist in analysis of this alleged event).
Eli alleged that other children were present (p10).
4.1.5 The interviewer briefly challenged (p10) the possibility of Eli being able to see what he claimed from a position at the doorway behind, but Eli is insistent that he saw him. He also said he told the teacher, but could not remember which one (pp10-11).
4.1.6 Eli is asked (p11) about other children he has named before as creche children, but insists that he only saw it happen to Joe. The interviewer asked, "Just one kid?", Eli responds, "Yeah, um, yeah." (Note: In interview 92/163, pp27-28, Eli alleged that he had seen it happen "about five or six", including girls and boys). The interviewer challenges Eli about this statement, "Because I think before you said there were more, more kids there.". Eli appears to change his story in response, "Mmm, Yeah, but I didn't see the other kids." (p11). He is challenged again, "So how do you know it happened to the other kids?" (p12). In response, he appears to change his story again, "Um, because I saw them. I saw them.". "So you did, you did see it happen to the other kids?"; "Yeah.."; "Um I did.". (Note: Either Eli is confused about the meaning of some of these questions or he is responding to the questions and challenges in an inconsistent fashion).
Comment: Some of the details in this review of the allegation made in 92/163 change. The allegation specific to Joe is made after preceding inability to name names and a denial that any friends were involved. Joe appears to be implicated only after suggestive questioning by the interviewer. It is notable that Eli becomes more insistent when challenged over his ability to see what is happening and more variable when challenged over detail. One has to consider the extent to which his allegations would have withstood less suggestive questioning and more challenging of some of the detail.
There is no evidence of
emotion or distress at any time in the process of producing the allegations.
4.2 Revisiting the allegations of urinating in Eli's mouth.
4.2.1 Eli does not appear to recall the allegations he made in this respect about three weeks earlier (92/163), even with some prompting (p12). The interviewer eventually said, "Mmm. Well last week you told me that Peter did a mean thing to you.", Eli responded "Yes.". The interviewer continued, "And that um one of the things that he's done to you is that he um..". Eli interjected, "Didn't do it to me." The interviewer challenged this, "Right, because I think you told me, well you did tell me last week it did happen to you." Eli retorted, "Oh, yeah." but still seemed uncertain...."What?" At this point the interviewer directly prompts Eli, "The penis in your face.". (Note: Eli has never actually stated the penis went in his face (see 2.2.2 above). Under further questioning he agrees that this happened to him (p12), once(p13) and the interviewer appears to consolidate it ("Mmm,. And when the penis went in your face.";"What did it do?" p13). Eli repeats the statement that it [the penis] went into his mouth (p13). He said he went and told the teacher (p13), but did not give a name as he had first time (see 2.2.3 above).
4.2.2 Questioning now focused on detail of the alleged event. Eli stated that Peter had urinated in his mouth (p13), that he had swallowed the urine (p14), which had made him feel "Yucky."
4.2.3 It appears that Eli has at times not maintained a consistent line on the occurrence of the alleged event, as the interviewer asked, "Mmm, so sometimes you say that that doesn't, that didn't happen to you."(p14). Eli affirms this, "Yeah". The interviewer probes, "Yeah, what makes you say that?" to which Eli gives an unusual response, "Oh, I don't know. I just sometimes forget."
The interviewer probes to see if forgetting makes it easier or harder, and gets the unexpected response "Harder.", Eli cannot explain what makes it hard. The interviewer proceeds, "Um, so um because I guess another thing I need to clear up with you is um.';. "That mum thought that you said to her that it happened lots of times." He replies, "No um yeah but not lots of times to me." The interviewer explains for him, "Oh, I see. So it happened to you once but it happened lots of times to kids." "Yep". (Note: Eli has not always been consistent in respect of the number of others involved (see 3.1.2 above), but he has insisted that it only happened to him once.).
Comment: This series of questions raises the issue of just how often the allegations have been traversed at home with mother, and what questioning techniques have been used. It also raises the question of communication between interviewer and parents, and how parents might use information obtained from the interviewer and vice versa when questioning the child. There might also be a question of how trapped Eli might feel in the event that he had wanted to not maintain his allegations when interviewed. The use of social pressure by the interviewer and her alerting Eli to the fact that she knew things from his parents might have made it impossible for him to retract even if he had wanted to, although he has shown a distinct inability to voluntarily report many of the alleged events, producing detail primarily in the face of suggestive questioning.
4.2.4 Further detail about the alleged event is sought (pp15-18). Allegedly Peter Ellis pulled his pants down. In response to a suggestive question, "And was his penis floppy and hanging down or straight and standing.", Eli selected "Um, um stand up." explaining "He was holding it up."(p15) (Note: This is not consistent with 92/163, p35, see 2.2.2 above). He then is asked a leading question, "And what was it, was it, you know how penises go go hard and straight?", to which he replies "Yes." (Note: A five and a half year old may not know this, given that his experience of erections may be uncommon, and that his penis would be unlikely to erect like that of an adult.). The interviewer follows up with a suggestive question, "Was it like that or was it all floppy?"
Eli responded "No it was all floppy." The interviewer continued, "When he was holding it?", Eli's reply was "It went hard and straight." (p15) (Note: This response by Eli replicates the words used by the interviewer in her suggestive question about erections).
Comment: The questioning here continues the pattern of suggestive and direct questioning when critical detail is sought. The expectation that a five and a half year-old child has some knowledge of erections is questionable. The fact that Eli says yes to the question about how penises go hard and straight does not mean that he actually knew, given that young children often are acquiescent (i.e., say yes regardless of knowledge) when adults ask them if they know things.
It is worth noting that in the preceding interview, Eli had said Ellis had his hands at his side, now he says he was holding his penis.
Further detail is sought (p16-17) on
the alleged event. Eli describes himself as going to the toilet, with his
pants down. He repeated that he had gone to tell the teacher. He indicated
(p17) that no other kids saw him (Note:
In interview 92/163 (p32), Eli said other children were present). He
reaffirmed that it only happened to him once (Note: This has been maintained consistently throughout by Eli.).
4.3 Revisiting the allegations involving other children
4.3.1 Eli repeated his allegation about Joe, and in response to direct questioning about girls being most involved, Eli states twice "Um, lots of girls."(p16) but gives no detail. In response to direct questioning Eli responded that Ellis never saw him observing these events. But stated that Ellis had threatened him (see 92/230, transcript p4, p20, for examples of the alleged threat) "Ah um that day he did wees in people's fa ce."(p19) (Note: This statement suggests that Ellis would have had to have seen him to threaten him. Further, the notion that the events occurred on only one day conflicts with other statements about many children being involved.). Eli stated (p21) that each child was threatened only once. Later (p23) Eli stated that it happened in lots of different toilets, always kids ones. Asked how many toilets there were (p24) he said "Ah, Don't know how many there were.". The interviewer suggests numbers, "One, two, three, four?", and Eli follows the suggestion, "Um, one, two, three four. Yep, there were four.". (Note: A plan of the toilet layout would be helpful in checking statements such as this.) Eli again said he had told a teacher (p21), and that the teacher told the policeman (p22).
Comment: The interviewer does not take the opportunity to explore the context of these statements which contain elements in conflict with earlier statements and needed to be clarified (e.g, Circumstances of the alleged threat to him and whether or not the events all were observed in different toilets on the one day, involving lots of children). Given that the child is suggestible, it is hard to ascertain whether the inconsistencies in his evidence are artefacts of poor memory for either what happened or what he has said in the past happened, suggestive questioning or unreliable reporting. Further, the more children Ellis allegedly involved in these activities, the greater the chances of his being caught in the act and/ or of being reported on by a child who observed or participated.
This interview, like the first, has involved use of suggestive, prompting questions and social influence to produce reports from Eli. Much of the detail of various allegations is obtained using these forms of question. Also, possibly because of the questioning style, Eli's reports within and across the interviews have numerous inconsistencies. Most of the similarities in allegation between this interview and 92/163 are a result of the use of suggestive questions by the interviewer. Eli does not display any emotional reactions that suggest that relating the information is distressing or stressful. His behaviour generally is consistently appropriate and developmentally normal throughout.
6.1 Allegations re anal penetration with sticks
6.1.1 Eli introduced the topic as follows, "And and I've got lots of new things to tell you."(p5), and proceeds in a confused sentence to allege that Ellis had brought a ladder in, used the ladder as access between two windows from the creche to the Cranmer Centre "..and then creeped into a room um to do the mean things."(p5). Eli proceeds to allege that this included "Um poked sticks up some of the kids' bottoms."(p5), that he saw this happen and that it happened to him (p5). Asked to describe what his bottom felt like, Eli said, "Um scary." (p6). (Note 1: One might have expected him to use words indicating pain, extreme fear, and possibly to display some emotion in reporting this event; Note 2: This allegation resembles that made by Bart Dogwood (92/ 474, pp17-18; 92/ 628, pp9-10). Eli goes on to allege that a number of men were present, some with spiked hairstyles and some with tattoos. Some of the men were white and some black (p6). He said (pp6-7) one of the creche staff (Gail) took a photograph of some of these men when Eli identified them on another occasion and gave the photograph(s) to the police. (Note: One presumes Gail and the Police could corroborate this).
6.1.2 Eli names Joe (p7) and 'big' Zelda (p8) as other children involved. (Note: These children are mentioned in previous interviews, Joe was named in the urination allegation (92/230)) Asked suggestively "Were there any women there?", Eli said "Yes.", but cannot name any. He claimed to be able to name four of the men (p8) and identified them (p9) as "Spike, Boulderhead, Yuckhead, and [long pause], Stupidhead.". (Note: These names bear a striking resemblance to those used by Bart Dogwood (92 / 474, p13)). Eli alleged that Peter Ellis hurt his bottom with the stick, the other adults present did things to the other children. Asked to name those different things, Eli said, "Um, I didn't see because Peter was too busy doing it to me."(p9).
6.1.3 Eli said (p9) he was standing. The interviewer then (p10) asked a series of suggestive questions, "And were you standing up straight?", Eli affirms "Yes, straight."; "Mrnm. And he put the stick in your bu..bottom?", "Yep"; "And what did he do when it, the stick.Was it i n your bottom or on your bottom?", "In ft."; "And it felt scared?", "Yes.". Eli went on to allege the stick was kept in his bottom for "Most of the day at creche."(p10), and that he cried and was seen crying by "Um Peter and lots of other people." Asked what the other creche teachers did, Eli said, "They, they were hiding so they didn't see us." (Note: A child with a sharp stick inserted in his anus for most of a creche day surely would be very likely to be observed by other staff, especially if crying. Further, one would anticipate some physical damage to the anus or rectum, with likely bleeding on underclothes that a parent would very likely notice. Was there a medical examination?)
6.1.4 Eli demonstrated the stick as about 150 cm long. He was asked the following suggestive question (p13), "Silly Sue. And so Eli did the, what sort of ends did the stick have, did it have straight ends, pointy ends or what, round ends?", Eli described it thus, "It had sharp ends.".."A bit like a prickle.". Asked how they got sharp, he alleged "Peter did it.", "What with?", "Um, I don't know because he didn't tell us." (p13). (Note: Logically, Eli could not have known that Peter had sharpened the stick in this case. This suggests that Eli is willing to speculate).
6.1.5 Eli proceeds to allege that Ellis smacked his bottom (p14), put faeces on his head from the stick (Note: Previously the stick had been up his bottom all day) 6.1.6 A confusing series of statements follows from Eli about the number of persons who have done this to him. At first it is no one else (p14), and later, all of the people involved (p14). When challenged (p14) about this inconsistency, Eli said, "Yep, I forgot."(p15). The interviewer suggests "Yeah, so how, what all of those four ones there?", "Yes."; "What about the other men that you don't know their names of, did they or not?", "Just the one." (Note: The use of suggestive questions does not allow any probing of Eli's own ideas on who allegedly was involved or a teasing out of the inconsistent reporting by the interviewer.).
6.1.7 Eli was asked, "Okay, so how many times has your bottom been hurt with a stick?", he responded "Ah, lots of times, one time for each person.", "Six times."(p15), but that the faeces were wiped on him "Um one time." (p16). Using social influence, the interviewer suggests to Eli that he had more to tell, "Right, I heard there might have been some other things that went on your bottom?" (p17). Eli shook his head.
6.1.8 Detail is sought about the use of the ladder between windows (p17). Eli alleges that he had been up on the 'roofs' [sic] of the Cranmer Centre with 'Peter and the men' (p17). It transpires that Eli also has been there with the Police and his father ("Um Colin [Eade?], Neville, and Daddy." (p18) and that hey went on "....a really secret roof and climbed down a chimney." (Note: If this visit did happen prior to the interview it increased the risk of contamination, since the visit may have provided Eli with additional ideas with which to possibly embellish any descriptions he gives of the environment and add apparent credence because of the ability to incorporate accurate detail.).
6.1.9 Eli described (pp18-19) the complex route taken to the room, alleging that all of the men and all of the women took him up there all the time and that he went "Um every day."(p19). The women were described, following suggestive questioning, as his mother's age p19). Further suggestive questioning about their clothing (p19) resulted in the choice of, "Um some wear dresses and some wear trousers."(p20). Asked the colour of their skin, Eli responded "Lots of colours.", a suggestive question followed, "Did they have skin like yours or mine, white skin, brown skin, or black skin, or..", and all options were chosen, "Um, white skin, brown skin, and black skin." (p20). Eli alleged, "Um, they did mean things too.", asked "Mmm, right. Did they do mean things to you or not?", Eli changed his answer in mid sentence, "No, all, yes.", asked what they did, "The same thing as Peter did.".
Comment: Detail of these women was obtained primarily by suggestive questioning. No attempt was made by the interviewer to put some of Eli's claims into context, for example how the children regularly apparently were secreted out of the creche and returned to it without being noticed.
Eli's descriptions beg the question of how it would be possible for these events to happen 'every day' or 'all the time' in the context of -the creche day, or that others would not observe the gathering of people of all colours and men with spiked hair and/or tattoos in the precinct of the creche or climbing out on ladders to the Cranmer Centre.
One would have
anticipated Eli's reported distress at having a 150 cm sharp stick up his
rectum for much of a creche day to have been noticed and attended to, or to
have created physical harm or stains or behavioural signs evident to his
mother at the time. Eli described the events in a matter-of-fact, untroubled
way, with no indication of distress, despite the fact that, had these events
been experienced, one would anticipate very considerable pain, anguish, and
trauma. None is evident in his demeanour or behaviour.
6.2 Allegation of digital anal penetration
6.2.1 Earlier (p17) Eli was put under some pressure to make an allegation that something other than a stick had gone on his bottom (see 4.1.7 above). He indicated at that time, by shake of head, that this was not so. The interviewer reintroduced the idea with a suggestive question (p20), "Right. Did peter touch your bottom with anything else?", Eli answered, "No.". The interviewer continued (p20), "He touched you with a stick didn't he? "He touched your bottom with a stick?", the answer is "Yes." (p21). A. further suggestive question followed, "Did he touch your bottom with any part of his body or not?". (Note: Eli has already twice indicated that no other touching had occurred). Eli now changed his response to, "Yes." (p21). The interviewer asked, "What did he touch?" (Note: The question is not 'What did he touch you with?') Eli replied, "His finger". The interviewer then posed a suggestive question, "His finger touched your bottom?", "Yep." (p21). Asked what the finger did to his bottom, Eli replied, "Ah, he just put it in and then took it out.", adding "And it made my bottom feel scary." (Note: same adjective used re the insertion of the stick).
6.2.2 A series of suggestive multiple-choice questions followed to get detail. "Im, and were you standing up, or sitting down, or bending over?", "Standing up."; "Im, and has anyone else ever put their finger in your bottom or not?", "No. "OK, so that's a finger and a stick, did any other part of Peter's bot...body touch your bottom? His finger touched your bottom, did any other Part of him touch your bottom?", "Um. no."; "OK, and your bottom felt scaly, did it feel soft or tickly?", "It was soft." (p21); "Or hard or sore?" (p22); "Sore."; "Which one did it feel, soft or tickly, or hard or sore or funny or..?", "Funny, sore, sore."; "Did it feel sore or not?", "Sore.". Finally, Eli is asked, "How long did it feel sore for?", "A long time.".
Comment: Almost none of the above is volunteered by Eli.
The questions are posed despite two earlier negative indications, which is
problematic given the known effects of repeated questioning on young
children's responses. In addition, the form of questioning puts Eli in the
role of a person making choices from a fixed range of proffered options
selected by the interviewer rather than as a person giving testimony directly
froni their own experience. This, plus the fact of young children's greater
suggestibility, makes it impossible to ascertain whether real experiences are
being reported or options proffered by an adult are being selected to satisfy
6.3 Revisiting allegations about anal penetration with sticks.
6.3.1 A return (Transcript p25) to this topic was initiated indirectly through asking Eli to recall the names of creche teachers. He volunteered the names of three (Marie, Gaye, and Peter) and was directly prompted with the names of two others, "Do you remember Mary?", "No."; "Do you remember Debbie?", "Yes." (p25). The interviewer asked, "And Debbie. So what was Debbie like?". Eli replied that Debbie had not known about the 'mean' things (p25). (Note: Eli had said he had told Debbie about the urination in the faces of the children (see 2.2.3 above), but appeared to forget this in subsequent interviews). After further questioning (p26) Eli said he felt angry about Debbie, "Yep, because, um, she saw some mean things happen except she didn't tell the Police." Eli indicated that she saw "Um Peter poking sticks up some of the kids bottoms (p26) and that she was the only creche teacher who saw (p27). (Note: There are five contradictions here, first the almost immediately preceding statement (p25) that Debbie had not known about the "mean" things; second, the earlier statement in interview 92/163 (p37) that he had told Debbie at least about the urination; third, his assertion at that time (92/163, p37) that she had told the Policeman Colin [Eade?]; fourth, Eli had earlier said the creche teachers were all hiding and did not see (92/629 pp10-11); and, fifth, he said (92/629, p11) that he could not remember any of the women involved and had not seen any of them before.).
6.3.2 Debbie's alleged involvement was explored with suggestive questioning
"When when the
mean things happened to kids, was she just looking at the mean things or was
she doing mean things?", "Oh, she was just looking"; "And
what stopped her from helping the kids?", "I don't know.";
"But you saw her there when that was happening?", "Yes.".
Eli was then asked, "Who did she see it happen to?", Eli replied,
"Um. Me, me, my mum and dad. My mum and dad.". Challenged by the
interviewer to tell the truth, Eli amends this to "[long pause] Um um
A leading question is asked, "When Debbie saw you were in the creche or in the other room?", "I was in the Cranmer Centre."
6.3.3 Eli alleged that Debbie went to the Cranmer Centre with Peter, who got there with keys (p28). Suggestive questions were then asked about the relationship of keys and ladder.
6.3.4 Eli is asked the colour of the clothes of the adults (p29-30), he responded, "Um yellow". "Were they all yellow or just some of them yellow?",
"Um. All yellow."; "They all had yellow clothes on?", "Yes."; Where did they get the clothes from?", "Um supermarket, they brought them." The interviewer challenges, "You just tell me things you remember, OK! Was that something you remember or was that something you just thought happened?" "Um. I remember."
Comment: This exchange raises the issue of the validity of
Eli's allegations, since it is reasonable to presume that, even if all of
these adults were dressed in yellow (which itself might reasonably be
questioned, given that such a colour would certainly attract attention and
make detection easy), Eli could only speculate on the source of the garments.
That he is willing to speculate when challenged and to assert that he is
remembering facts under such circumstances must bring his other evidence into
6.4 Further allegations of urination and defecation.
6.4.1 After being asked suggestive questions (p32) about Ellis' clothing "So you know how you said that Peter's clothes were on?"; "Did they always stay on or did they sometimes do something else?", "Stay off, they sometimes stayed off."; Sometimes they came off?", "Yes.", Eli made a new allegation. "And what did he do then when his clothes were off?", "Um. He did wees and poos in people's mouths."(p32). Debbie allegedly observed this (p33).
Comment: No detail or context is obtained in respect of
this allegation. Eli appears distracted and off task, focused on play doh. It
could simply represent a reformulation of his earlier allegations of this sort
and transposing them into the different setting.
6.5 Allegations of children hitting each other.
6.5.1 Suggestive questioning (p34) generates allegations that children had to do 'mean things' to each other, having been told to by "Peter and all the men."(p35). The activity involved... "Um they had to lift their pants down and um hit their bottoms." ..."They hit each others bottoms."(p35)..."With spades."(p36) ...""Peter gave them.". This allegedly happened "Lots of times.", with men and "Lots of women" present.
Comment: This allegation is made while Eli is distracted with the toys and play doh. No context was given, and suggestive questioning introduced the topic. Eli's behaviour is not on-task, and he evidences no emotional behaviour, although he does engage in rough play with the doll, which may or may not be relevant, but could well reflect tedium as the interview has been going on for some time, or the fact that he is being asked about hitting at the time.
The allegations made by Eli in this final interview (92/629 28.10.92) are materially different from those made in his interviews of 5 months earlier, in that they introduce an extensive range of characters, both male and female, and allege events in other parts of the building which involve anal penetration by sticks. This new allegation bears some similarities with allegations made earlier by Bart Dogwood (92/474, 05.08.92) in terms of the names and the allegation of use of sharp sticks in anal penetration, and is similar in location to concurrent allegations by Bart Dogwood (92/628, 28.10.92) regarding place (somewhere in the creche building complex). Eli mentions that a Bart attended his recent birthday party, could that be Bart Dogwood? Or is it possible that Eli and Bart have met in some other context?
Other possible sources of contamination include parental questioning recent visits to the creche and Cranmer Centre, possible contact with other complainant children.
It is of note that the majority of the allegations and the bulk of the detail is obtained by suggestive, direct questioning with use of social influence as an additional factor from time to time. There are indications that, when questioned in this way, Eli suggestible and acquiescent and also that he is willing to speculate in the face of such questioning and that, when challenged, he is often prepared to maintain his ground.
Eli, in his initial allegations, describes a situation where children using the toilets are observed by him having their faces urinated on by Peter Ellis who has his pants and underpants around his ankles. He himself endures this on one occasion, in which Ellis allegedly put his penis into Eli's mouth and urinated, the urine being swallowed.
Eli also later paints a picture of a group of men and women of various skin colours, all dressed in yellow, some of the men with spiked hair and/or with tattoos visiting the creche and / or the Cranmer Centre during creche hours and taking the children off to a room reached by ladder across from open windows and pushing sharp sticks into the children's anuses on frequent occasions.
As noted above, much of the above information is generated using questioning techniques known to be problematic with young children, by virtue of such children being susceptible to suggestive or leading questions and social influence. The widespread use of such methods in these interviews, combined with this child's evident susceptibility to them, and his tendency to be prepared to speculate, must raise very serious doubts about the reliability of the allegations obtained under such conditions