Knottfield: Marshall Jailed for Six Years

A peadophile who abused children at a care home in the 1970s and 80s has today been jailed for six years.

Joseph Henry Marshall, 85, was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault and two of gross indecency by a jury in December last year.

All of the assaults occurred at the former Knottfield Children’s Home between 1974 and 1982. One of the victims was a resident at the home, the other was the son of an employee of the home.

Marshall – image credit BBC

Impact Statements

Today prosecutor Anne Whyte read three victim impact statements, from the two men who Marshall was convicted of abusing as children and the wife of one of the men.

The first man said Marshall’s sentencing ‘does not end the story of Knottfield’ and said Marshall had ‘ruined countless lives’. The man added that Marshall had ‘taken away’ their innocence, ‘took advantage of the vulnerable’ and said he felt safer in prison than he did in the children’s home.

The second man said the abuse had affected how he formed relationships, made it difficult for him to make friends with other men or work for other men, leading to him moving jobs several times. He added that when the Tynwald committee investigation of Knottfield began, this had ‘opened a Pandoras Box’ and he had became ‘angry’ and isolated himself away from others. He had since been diagnosed with PTSD.

The third statement came from his wife, who said her husband only told her of the abuse when the Tynwald committee began and said that he had often displayed ‘unpredictable’ behaviour that had affected their family life. She added: ‘The court case has finished, but the impact carries on.’


Collingwood Thompson QC, who had defended Mr Marshall during his trial, said due to Marshall continuing to refuse to accept responsibility for his actions, there was ‘very little’ he could say about the offences.

He asked the court to take into account his client’s age, poor health, the toll the publicity around the trial had taken on him and his previous sentences for similar offences in 1992. Mr Thompson noted that at one point his client was not considered fit enough to stand trial without a pacemaker and had been rushed to the UK for an emergency surgery before the trial got underway for one to be fitted, during which time he had stopped and he had to be revived.

He added that Marshall’s son had severed ties with him as a result of this trial and his church community had shunned him, leaving him to lead a ‘reclusive life’.

He said: ‘He is likely to finish his life in prison.’


In sentencing Marshall, Deemster Bernard Richmond said the retired children’s home governor, ‘now cuts a lonely figure’ but that was in ‘stark contrast’ to the man who abused children.

He added: ‘You considered yourself to be an absolute authority at Knottfield and acted accordingly.’

Deemster Richmond said Marshall had abused children who were ‘voiceless and powerless’ and that his behaviour ‘demonstrated you had total confidence to act as you wished and when you wished’. He agreed with Mr Thompsom’s comment that Marshall is, given his poor health and age, likely to die in prison.

The Deemster told Marshall: ‘No child in whom you developed an interest was safe from you.’

He added: ‘Your conduct at Knottfield is a matter of ongoing shame. Those you abused will live with that for the rest of their lives.’

In total Marshall was jailed for six years.

Marshall had pleaded not guilty to the charges when he faced trial last year. During this trial, he was cleared of three other counts of indecent assault and one of buggery.

Marshall was previously found guilty of similar offences, also committed at Knottfield, in 1992. At that time, he was jailed for three years for 13 offences of indecent assault.