A PENSIONER has denied a catalogue of historic sex abuse against young boys in his care at a Hampshire children’s home.

Former boss of the Salerno Road children’s home in Lordswood, Colin Davis told a jury that when he first arrived at the home in 1975 the boys were “running riot”, prompting him to implement several changes.

Four weeks into the trial, expected to last six weeks, Davis took to the witness box to give evidence at Southampton Crown Court yesterday as the defence began its case.

He told jurors he was “firm but fair” and dismissed claims he was a “bully”.

Davis denied an allegation that he sexually assaulted a boy during a medical assessment as a form of punishment for the alleged victim’s misbehaviour.

He told jurors: “All boys that came in [to the home] had a medical from the doctor. They had a medical by a doctor before they left.”

Davis said there were other ways to punish the boys, adding: “Their smoking privileges could be taken away and a member of staff could send them to bed early.”

He denied sexually assaulting a boy who was sick and staying home from school, telling jurors that any member of staff on duty would go into the room to make sure he was okay.

The court heard how another alleged victim was a “special case” as he was prone to soiling himself.

Davis denied sexually assaulting the boy, adding: “The only reason he went into a single room is because he messed himself and we did not want other residents taking the mickey out of him.”

The court heard Davis became officer in charge at Salerno Road after leaving his job as housemaster of an approved school.

The 75-year-old, from Lingfield, faces 40 counts of indecent assault and other serious sexual offences against nine boys under the age of 18.

Davis stands accused of various sexual assault charges including buggery, indecent assault and gross indecency with a child that took place over several years.

The charges all relate to alleged offences at the Salerno Road home which closed in 2013.

The defendant originally faced 49 charges, but the jury was directed to return a not guilty verdict on one count, while a further eight were withdrawn.