The Independent, July 6th 1999
By Kim Sengupta
A SOCIAL worker who carried out dozens of sex attacks was allowed to keep his job as the head of a children’s home, despite the fact that local authority officials knew he had been convicted of a paedophile offence.
The decision by Lambeth Council in south London not to dismiss Michael Carroll after learning about his indecent assault on a 12-year-old boy emerged yesterday as he pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to 35 charges of child sex abuse over 20 years.
The council found out about Carroll’s conviction in l986 when he was running a children’s home in the borough, and issued him with a written warning. He was dismissed five years later after an investigation into financial irregularities.
Heather Rabbatts, Lambeth’s chief executive, admitted last night that the decision not to sack Carroll was a “serious error” which would not happen under today’s regulations. “Knowing what we know today about the nature of these offences and the nature of those who commit them, it was a mistake not to have dismissed this man. However, different legislation applied at that time and Carroll was allowed to continue in his post,” she said.
Ms Rabbatts, who was not in charge while Carroll was employed, said restrictions imposed by police and social services inquiries into alleged child abuses meant no further details about his actions as a council employee could be disclosed.
Scotland Yard has amassed a database of 14,500 names of children in the borough’s care between l974 and l995. Lambeth closed all its homes for children in care in l995 in response to concern about abuse.
Yesterday, Carroll, 50, of Oswestry, Shropshire, pleaded guilty to 24 indecent assaults, five cases of buggery and five of attempted buggery, and one act of gross indecency against 12 boys. All the offences took place while he was working in residential care in Merseyside and London between l966-86.
Carroll was originally charged with 76 offences. The Recorder let the remaining indictments lie on file. Sentencing will take place on 30 July.
Carroll, who was born in Liverpool and grew up in care, studied child care and obtained qualifications at Liverpool and Salford universities and the Mabel Fletcher College, Liverpool. He got a job at St Edmund’s Orphanage in Bebington, Merseyside, in the mid-Sixties and in l978 became deputy officer at a children’s home in Lambeth, taking charge in l980.
He was convicted of indecent assault against a 12-year-old in l966 when he was at St Edmund’s Orphanage. He failed to declare this conviction when he took up the post in Lambeth, but it came to light in l986 through police checks when he applied to foster two children from another borough.
Following a written warning, Carroll continued in his post until his dismissal over allegations of financial malpractice in l991. He moved to Chirk, Clwyd, and bought a hotel business. In l997 he came under suspicion during a major investigation into child abuse launched by Merseyside Police. He was arrested shortly afterwards.