Former Rhydd Court School Teachers Face Child Abuse Charges

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Hywel Thomas

Senior Associate Solicitor, Abuse

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Following investigations by West Mercia Police, eight former teachers have appeared in court in August 2022 to face charges of child cruelty and sexual abuse. They are accused of assaulting, neglecting and mistreating pupils at Rhydd Court School in Malvern, Worcester between the years of 1979 and 1991.

Rhydd Court School, now known simply as The Rhydd, was a school based in Worcestershire, England. It spanned over some 30 acres and including a main building, three smaller buildings, a courtyard, a chapel and various outbuilding. Within the grounds of the property, there was a tennis court, a lake, and a field.

At the time of the alleged offences, the school had operated as a weekday boarding school and catered for pupils who had been assessed and deemed to have moderate learning difficulties.

Pupils attending at the school were boys between the ages of 10 to 19 years old. The boarding school was run by Worcestershire County Council at the time and it subsequently closed down in 1991after an initial police investigation. The pupils who were attending the school at the time were transferred to ‘special units’ to address their educational needs at various different mainstream schools.

Although the investigation was initially closed, investigations have since reopened under “Operation Lydstep”. Each of the former teachers accused had previously been granted unconditional bail and went on to appear in court on Friday 28 October 2022. A trial date has now been set for 8 January 2024 at Worcester Crown Court.

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Who was Accused?

The former teachers who have been accused each faced their own individual charges in court, including:

  • Anita Gunning –aged 59 years old is charged with conspiracy to commit indecent assault of a boy under the age of 14 and indecently assaulting the same boy in a tent between 1987 and 1991. She has also been accused of assaulting another young boy between 1987 and 1991.
  • Cynthia Moore –is charged with conspiracy to commit a sexual offence with a boy under the age of 16 years between 1987 and 1991. She also faces charges for child cruelty and conspiring to indecently assault a boy under 16 years of age.
  • Michael Connor –is faced with two charges of assault causing actual bodily harm between 1987 and 1991. He is also charged with one count of indecent assault and conspiracy to commit a sexual offence as well as conspiring to carry out an indecent assault.
  • Marie Handy – accused of indecent assault of a boy under the age of 14 between September 1987 and July 1991.
  • Terence Heath –is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit a sexual offence as well as two indecent assaults which took place between 1987 and 1990.
  • David Sykes – now aged 75 faces charges of causing grievous bodily harm in an assault which is alleged to have involved a perforated eardrum. He is also charged with indecently assaulting a boy under 16 years of age between June 1987 and February 1990.
  • John Dixon –aged 82 years old, is charged with conspiring to commit child cruelty. He will also be faced with two charges of conspiracy to commit a sexual offence, six indecent assaults and four sexual offences.
  • Charmaine James –accused of gross indecency with a boy who was under the age of 14 as well two indecent assaults on one boy and a man aged over 16 years of age.

What Can You Do If You’ve Been Affected?

If you or a loved one attended at Rhydd Court School in the past and have been affected by this case, we would strongly encourage you to report your experience to the police. We know how difficult this can be but it could help both you and others to obtain justice.

We understand that if you’re a survivor of childhood abuse of any nature, the thought of talking about your experience and pursuing legal action can feel daunting, but please be assured that our approachable Abuse Solicitors are specialists and will use their experience to handle your case with both sensitivity and understanding.

We understand that survivors of any kind of abuse often face a lot of different challenges which can prevent them from seeking help. The trauma endured during any kind of abuse can evoke a sense of fear, shame, and apprehension which understandably makes it difficult for survivors to come forward. It can be difficult, and survivors can be reluctant to open up about painful memories.

This could be for many reasons, however the most common are a fear of not being believed, concern about experiencing flashbacks or feeling that their experiences are simply too personal or too shameful to share.

Particularly in cases concerning child abuse, there is a power dynamic which may continue to impact the survivor, even if the abuse has ended. This can leave survivors feeling disempowered and voiceless. However, we believe that it’s essential for survivors to understand that legal recourse can be an important step towards healing and holding their perpetrators to account.

If you can, reporting your experience to the police can contribute to any relevant ongoing investigations and possibly prevent further harm to others.

How Can We Help?

Our experienced Child Abuse Solicitors will handle every case with sensitivity and understanding. We are trained to navigate the complex legal process so that you don’t have to. They’ll make sure that you feel supported throughout the process and will advocate for you as much as possible. Here at Simpson Millar, we’re determined and dedicated to providing you with a safe and understanding environment throughout the legal process.

The legal proceedings against the former teachers at Rhydd Court School highlight the broader issue of addressing historical cases of abuse in a school environment. These cases show the need for a re-examination of safeguarding mechanisms, policies, and oversight within educational institutions.

We are hopeful that the spotlight on such issues encourages reflection on the importance of  strongchild protection measures and the need for transparent investigations to ensure the safety and well-being of all students.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, our team can be contacted on 0808 239 1287. Alternatively, you can request a call back. We’re here to listen. The following organisations may also be able to provide you with some help and support:

  • Support for Survivors – can be contacted on 0115 962 2722 or by email at [email protected]. Further information can be found on their website at
  • The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) – can be contacted by telephone on 0808 801 0331 or by email at [email protected]. Further resources are available on their website at


Support for Survivors. (n.d.). Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). (n.d.). Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

BBC News. (2019, July 5). "Rhydd Court School sex abuse and cruelty scandal." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

BBC News. (2019, August 14). "Rhydd Court School: Eight charged over alleged abuse." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Worcester News. (2006, February 10). "Rhydd Court School sex abuse cruelty scandal - eight appear in Worcester Crown Court." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Worcester News. (2005, December 13). "Former school has £1 million price tag." Retrieved from (Accessed December 5, 2023)

Hywel Thomas Profile Picture

Hywel Thomas

Senior Associate Solicitor, Abuse

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

With a background in Personal Injury Claims and Criminal Injury Compensation Claims, Hywel started specialising in Abuse Claims in 2001. Over the years, he has seen the area of abuse law evolve, presenting new challenges and learning opportunities. He has tackled cases against diverse groups, from local authorities to private schools, charities, medical organisations, and even individuals.

His passion for understanding psychological injuries led him to this area of Law.  Hywel's work extends beyond seeking financial compensation for his clients; he focuses on helping victims and survivors access support, making a real difference in their healing process. He values each client's unique motivations, ensuring they achieve what they desire through the legal process.

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