LEIGH Gocan described how he was taken away from Shirley Oaks by a strange man who wanted him to take off his clothes. "You always saw well-to-do people around Shirley Oaks," he told the Advertiser. "One time I was introduced to a man, who staff said I should think of as my uncle. They said I would spend the weekend with him, that he would take us out to the park and for lunch. He drove me to his house. It was in Tooting. He took me into his room. I didn't go to bed. I sat on a chair all night with all my clothes on. "When he took me back to the home and he told the staff I wouldn't take my clothes off. That should have rung alarm bells, but they knew what was going on." The experience would go on to have a lasting effect on the young boy's life. "That's when I started fighting," he said. "I was wild. I used to smash up the cottage. When I think about it now as an adult, I realised I've hurt a lot of people along the way. It's only now that I realised I was lashing out because of what happened to me." Leigh, 53, was in foster care before moving to Shirley Oaks and describes being subject to "beatings every single day" from the "most evil people you could imagine". His experiences left him deeply scarred. He started drinking at seven and would go on to be a drug addict. "I became an alcoholic, a junkie. Crack, heroin, everything you can think of, just to get away from the memories." The foster family he lived with neglected him to the point that he was so thirsty he would drink food colouring. He also stole, leading him to a life of crime and two convictions for armed robbery, the last of which was in 1982.
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