Performing arts school at centre of child abuse claims stands in disarray, neighbour feels 'crook'

Performing arts school at centre of child abuse claims stands in disarray, neighbour feels 'crook'

Performing arts school at centre of child abuse claims stands in disarray, neighbour feels 'crook'

Updated 7 February 2018, 11:10 AEDT

Knee-high grass, graffiti — a peek inside the performing arts school in regional NSW linked to 127 child abuse allegations reveals a building stuck in time, in more ways than one.

Inside one of the rooms, where half-finished pottery projects are littered over tables.

Seven people linked to the school are behind bars, accused of a long and lurid list of sexual and physical abuse against three boys, all aged under eight.

A neighbour of the school told the ABC he felt sick after learning of the allegations levelled by police yesterday, among the most confronting of which was that the young boys were subjected to "blood rituals".

Police claim blood was taken from the children, who were then forced to drink it.

The accused — four women aged 58, 29, 26 and 20, two men aged 52 and 18, and a 17-year-old girl — are all connected to the regional arts school and intend to plead not guilty.

The group's lawyer, Bryan Wrench, said there was "another side" to this story in court yesterday.

However, the neighbour said he felt sick when he heard the allegations.

"You hear something happen right next to the place where you live, and you've got your own kid here, it's nerve-wracking," he said.

"I felt crook in the gut and really angry at the same time."

The man said he regularly takes his son near the building to play in a nearby park.

"It's a peaceful street, a couple of workers, a couple of kids walking up here from school," he said.

Rubbish under the wall of clocks

The school in the past had been praised by a local business as "family friendly" and an environment where "students can learn in a safe and fun manner".

On the group's Facebook page, they describe themselves as a "supportive space" where people of all ages and abilities can learn.

The group's headquarters are a brick warehouse building, surrounded by scrubby bushland, in a light industrial area.

The block is in disarray, littered with old pool deck chairs, the shed's brickwork stained by splashes of sparkly paint and swallowed by overgrown grass.

A peak through the building's windows shows a wall of clocks and a spread of pottery supplies.

Other neighbours to the school were also shocked to learn of the allegations, one man telling the ABC the 58-year-old woman charged was extremely nice and seemed trustworthy.

Charges against the seven people include sexual intercourse with a child under 10, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault in company and producing child abuse material.

None of the accused applied for bail in court on Tuesday and it was formally refused.

The adult co-accused are due back in court on March 16.