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Mormon Bishop and wife from Broughty Ferry on trial for abusing children

Dundee Sheriff Court.
Dundee Sheriff Court.

A Mormon Bishop used a belt to administer daily beatings to a foster child, a jury in Dundee was told.

Dennis Campbell and his wife Avril subjected the young boy to systematic cruelty and beatings after he moved in with their family, he told the trial.

Now 52, he described being forced to eat whole bars of soap and stand outside in winter when he was naked and being kicked as he cowered on the floor.

The man, who moved in with the Bishop and his family when he was six, said the abuse took place “daily” between 1976 and 1981.

He told Dundee Sheriff Court: “Dennis was usually in his church.

“He was the Bishop in his church.

“He would come home later in the evenings. It was a Mormon family.

“He was the Bishop so it was a senior role and they were very well respected Mormons.

“The beatings from Dennis would be after Avril had said what had happened.

“She would say ‘wait till Dennis gets home’.

“I would lie awake.

“I distinctly remember the sound of his car reversing into the driveway and waiting a few minutes.

“Then Dennis would tell me to come back in and I would get belted.”

Blamed wife for ‘instigating’ abuse

Fiscal depute Lora Apostolova asked: “How often would you get beaten with the belt?”

He replied: “Almost daily.”

He confirmed it was Dennis Campbell who carried out the beltings but said it was his wife who drove the abusive regime.

He told the jury: “She did lots of kicking, slapping and punching.

“It was usually around the shins and ankles.

“Sometimes I would crouch down, so it was on my body. I was cowering.

“Avril was pretty much the instigator in a lot of this.

“She would use Dennis, in essence, as an enforcer.

“I was in complete fear.

“There was a punishment regime around not conforming.

“I would get beaten. Dennis used the belt a lot.

“I learned very quickly to cry just so it would stop.”

Abuse started on first night in home

He told the court Avril Campbell forced him to drink so much water he was physically sick and has been left unable to face drinking water in the years since.

He gave evidence he had been left starving by the foster couple and would sneak around their homes in Dundee and Angus looking for food and drink during the night.

He said the callous behaviour started on the evening he joined their family, when they forced him to wear girls’ underpants and then mocked him.

The witness told the jury, after five years, he plucked up the courage to tell a social worker he wanted to move out of the family home.

The charges

Dennis, 77 and Avril Campbell, 74, are accused of attacking and neglecting children at addresses around Dundee and Angus between 1976 and 1990.

The duo, from Broughty Ferry, are accused of attacking a boy by seizing his hair and body, striking him on the head and body and striking his naked buttocks with a belt between April 1976 and February 1981.

The Campbells, both of King Street, allegedly forced the boy to wear female clothes, denied him food, forced him to drink water until he vomited, denied him shelter, forced him to eat soap and forced him to sleep on a stone floor.

They are alleged to have forced him to stand against a wall for long periods, taunted and humiliated him and made him bathe in excessively hot or cold water.

Avril Campbell is alleged to have forced the boy to suck her naked breast.

Trial continues

It is alleged that between April 1976 and September 1990 they assaulted a second child by kicking and striking her, throwing a bottle at her and striking her buttocks with a belt.

The same child was allegedly denied food, forced to eat soap and denied medical aid between 1978 – when she was eight – and 1985.

She was allegedly locked in a house, pushed until she fell downstairs and forced to bathe in excessively cold water.

Both accused deny the charges against them and the trial, before Sheriff Paul Brown, continues.