EVERY night was the same. A child’s name would be called out before they were led to a padded cell for “treatment”.

Locked inside and wearing only a hospital gown, they would be forced to lie on a mattress, their hands tied with bandages.

In this so-called psychiatric hospital, the doctor would then inject his young patients with a paralysing “truth drug” in a bid to “cure” them of their past traumas.

He would use the opportunity to sexually assault them.

It was a nightmare scene dismissed as fantasy when former child patient Barbara O’Hare first revealed the abuse she and possibly “thousands” of others suffered at the hands of the man who was supposed to be taking care of them.

She said: “It is so outlandish. No one would believe us. Even my dad told me, ‘you are a liar’. There was no one to tell. No one was going to listen to us.”

But it was no work of fiction. This week it emerged that at least 65 children were allegedly abused while under the care of Kenneth Milner at Aston Hall, in Derbyshire.

Dr Milner, a psychiatrist who had worked at Broadmoor and Rampton hospitals, ran the NHS-funded hospital from 1947 to the Seventies.

He died in 1976, decades before the first claims emerged about what went on inside Aston Hall.

A police report released this week found that if he were still alive today, there would be enough evidence to quiz him over allegations of rape, indecent assault and child cruelty against patients as young as ten.

Police have identified at least 65 victims and 73 crimes, 43 of which were of a sexual nature.

After decades of not being believed, Barbara, now 59 and a grandmother, said: “This is the validation that we were telling the truth. When you take account of how long he was there for, he abused thousands of people.”

Barbara was admitted to Aston Hall in January 1971 “because I had behavioural problems — but I wasn’t the problem, the adults were”.

After her mum left before she was a year old, Barbara’s dad was unable to cope and handed his daughter over to the care system.

The young girl got a reputation as a troublemaker after running away from her foster mother and a children’s home and, aged 11, was sent to a remand centre for unsettled children.

While there, staff told her a “very important person” was coming to visit. It was Dr Milner, Aston Hall’s medical superintendent.

She recalled: “He said I would be taken care of. Even though I didn’t understand what I needed to get better from, I loved the idea of being a patient.

“I thought hospital would mean freedom. I thought Dr Milner was going to save me. But instead he became my jailer.”

Barbara paints a chilling picture of what life was like in Aston Hall during the eight months she spent there, aged 12.

Each night, the children would gather at a window. When Dr Milner pulled up outside the Grade II-listed mansion, the terrified youngsters would desperately try to hide.

The doctor would choose a different child each night for “treatment”.

Barbara said: “I would be tied up and injected by a nurse as I lay on a mattress in a padded room and left feeling like a piece of stone, with every muscle frozen.

“Then Milner came in and put three cushions next to the mattress and lay down on them.

“I never saw the mask he put on my face coming, but I remember it hurt my skin — and ether was then dripped on it which made me go unconscious.” After years fighting to get hold of her medical records — even being told they did not exist — Barbara now knows she was given high doses of sodium amytal, which has sedative-hypnotic properties.

The “truth serum” was administered during a treatment known as “narco-analysis”, said to encourage patients to reveal thoughts they would usually hide. Nurses reassured them it was for their own good.

Barbara said: “I remember one saying, ‘You have been a very bad girl but Dr Milner is going to cure you of your badness’.”

But Barbara believes it was all a cover for a reign of sexual abuse.

She came round from her first “treatment” with “a pain searing up my body from between my legs”.

She added: “Along with many others, I was sexually abused and experimented on. But I actually think the worst thing he did was label us. He was happy to label us ‘mental defectives’ in a bid to justify his sick experiments.

“It is my feeling he was knocking us out on order for paedophiles. I have no photographs of myself as a child and it kills me to say this but in my heart I believe the only pictures of me that exist could be in the possession of paedophiles.

“I am sure pictures were taken as I was lying in that room.”

After suffering a flashback in 1995, Barbara, who was later moved to an approved school in St Helens, Merseyside, was one of the first to speak out about what happened. But with no proof, her claims were dismissed.

Barbara, who now lives in Liverpool, said: “People thought I was nuts. The minute you say ‘mental institution’, people do. That’s how Milner got away with it for so long.

“The truth is we were human toys. We were a piece of meat for someone to play with behind closed doors. And this man, this monster, was supposed to be protecting us.”

In June 2015 Barbara came across another alleged victim after they posted a comment on a photo of the hospital online. Barbara set up a Facebook support group and more came forward.

When she got hold of her medical records, she finally had the proof that she had been a patient and drugged. She said: “I had something people had to listen to.”

It is largely her persistence to expose the scandal that prompted Derbyshire Police, under the direction of the county’s Safeguarding Children board, to launch an investigation in February 2016.

Today, Barbara’s chilling account, detailed in her autobiography The Hospital: How I Survived The Secret Child Experiments At Aston Hall, has been echoed by 142 other witness statements, all making strikingly similar claims.

Patricia Turner, 63, who was sent to the hospital in 1968 for stealing a lipstick, recalls: “I was 13 and I remember lying on a mattress and a man was behind me with his hands everywhere.”

Phil Merriman, 59, was just nine when he was sent to Aston Hall for “playing up”.

He said: “I was told to lie down and was injected in my arm. I was basically out of it from then.

“The room was spinning and I had a mask put over my face. A doctor dripped ether on this mask and I was breathing it in.

“He was asking me questions but some of it was very sexual. I tried to take it off but another doctor restrained me while Milner dripped more liquid on me.

“They were treating us like human guinea pigs. Normally you would have psychologists talking to you about problems, not be taken to hospital to be experimented on with lethal drugs.”

Another victim, David Martin, said he was abused by Milner on several occasions, aged 12 and 13.

He said: “This is justice for us. There’s a long way to go but this is confirmation that we were abused and it was horrific.

“It ruined my life. For years after I was not believed and it was like I was in a different world to other people.”

There are also claims of patients being hit when trying to resist treatment. One girl had her head held under water, while another’s hair was repeatedly pulled to force her to take medication.

It is feared no one could be held accountable as other staff members have been removed from the inquiry, have died or are unable to be identified.

But the victims’ voices are finally being heard.

Barbara said: “I was in Aston Hall for eight months — eight months that took my whole life away. Eight months that left me with cluster headaches, panic attacks, flashbacks and nightmares.

“But blocking out Milner and what he did is not the answer. I would now sooner face the reality of what happened and try to recover — and hopefully help other people do the same.

“I want to stay strong enough to help other survivors who are living with this trauma.”