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Thursday, 30 November 2017

Nun 'killed' young boy at South Lanarkshire orphanage, child abuse inquiry hears

Written by The Press Association

A nun "killed" a four-year-old boy at an orphanage, a child abuse inquiry has heard.

A witness, who cannot be named, said he heard the boy being beaten then never saw him again and recently found out the boy had died.

The witness also said he was physically and sexually abused in care and believed he had killed his mother after a nun told him so.

He was speaking at the latest phase of Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry hearings in Edinburgh, now taking evidence about institutions run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, which have apologised to anyone abused in their care.

The witness said after entering Smyllum Park Orphanage in Lanark, South Lanarkshire, aged three in 1952 he heard a boy being beaten "quite badly" behind closed curtains.

"We heard slap, slap, slap, and 'shut up', 'shut up'. It was one of the nuns," he said.

"The next day [the boy] didn't show up. We all cheered because we thought he had got a family and he was away.

"It wasn't until I saw the paper, the Sunday Post, that I found out he died, or he was killed."

A BBC and Sunday Post investigation earlier this year found at least 400 children from Smyllum Park are thought to be buried in an unmarked grave at the town's St Mary's Cemetery.

The orphanage ran between 1864 and 1981 and housed more than 10,000 children.

Prosecutors have said there is no evidence a crime has been committed at the orphanage in relation to the mass grave reports.

The witness said he was regularly stripped and belted by around six different nuns and cried as he recounted one of them calling him a "mum killer", which he believed until his mid-20s.

The witness also said he was touched inappropriately by a priest while at the orphanage, and called on the Pope to take action, saying he wants the Sisters of Charity disbanded.

He said: "I don't want them touching anybody ever again."

A further witness, also not being named, said his baby brother was beaten by nuns at the orphanage and he himself was physically and sexually abused.

He said he saw one nun "leathering" his brother, adding: "She was slapping him on the face, catching him on the side of the face with her hand. I think he was about eight or nine months."

He told how he later saw the same nun leave his brother bleeding by "stabbing" him in the face with a spoon during feeding and at one stage found the youngster with a broken pelvis and leg and was told he had been thrown onto an iron bed frame.

The witness, who entered Smyllum Park aged 10 in 1951, said a lay worker touched his private parts as did a nun who regularly beat him with a wooden blackboard pointer and kicked him, at one point dislocating his fingers.

He said the nun "went into a frenzy" and beatings lasted up to 10 minutes during which she called him the "devil's disciple".

He told how he once managed to grab the pointer from her and hit her but was then so severely beaten he was immobile for two hours.

He said he was made to eat dropped food off the floor and beaten for not finishing it.

The witness said he was accused of lying when he told the Mother Superior, his grandfather and a policeman about the abuse.

Colin MacAuley QC, counsel to the inquiry, put to the witness the nuns' position that corporal punishment was not used at Smyllum Park and that the nuns were "kind".

The witness replied: "They are dirty liars."

Responding to the nuns' claims, a third witness who described daily beatings by "inhumane" nuns, said: "We can't all be lying."

The inquiry continues on today.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2017, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Lanark Museum.