Offending Institution: Cobham Youth Justice Centre

cobham juvenile justice centre

Cobham Youth Justice Centre, formally known as Cobham Remand Centre, has a long and shocking history of child abuse. For decades, countless children within the centre have been subjected to illegal strip searches, violent assaults and severe sexual abuse by officers.

Kelso Lawyers has represented victims of sexual abuse, violence and staff misconduct at Cobham dating as far back as the early 1980s and as recently as the 2020s. In this article, we reveal a small number of the many atrocities that have occurred within Cobham throughout this period.

Are you a survivor of abuse in Cobham or other youth detention centres? Click here to share your story with us. You may be eligible for compensation.

In 2019, former Cobham officer Richard Smith was arrested and charged with 24 child sex offences, including sexual assault and buggery. The offences occurred at Cobham between 1981 and 1983. Kelso Lawyers has represented a number of Smith’s victims, including one who participated in the criminal investigation.

In 1988, youth worker Brian Laughlin faced charges in the NSW District Court after sexually assaulting an inmate at Cobham. Kelso Lawyers has also acted for a separate victim who alleges being sexually abused by Laughlin in a NSW institution.

For every perpetrator who has been charged, many others have thus far escaped justice. Kelso Lawyers has had the great privilege of assisting a large number of former Cobham residents in seeking compensation for the harm caused by these predators, even in cases where the victim has been unable to recall the officer’s name.

In 2020, it was revealed that Cobham failed to implement new laws around the legal conduct of strip searches. The Inspector of Custodial Services reported that over 4,000 partially clothed strip searches had been conducted at Cobham, with only 23 banned items (most of which were largely harmless) found as a result of these searches.

In reality, the situation is far worse; many former Cobham residents have described being stripped fully naked and searched illegally on multiple occasions throughout their time in the institution. In some cases, this then led directly to their being sexually abused by those conducting the searches.

If you were abused in Cobham or other youth detention centres, we want to hear from you. We will fight for you. Click here to share your story, or call us on (02) 4907 4200.