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Sisters at Catholic orphanage force-fed residents, child abuse inquiry hears

Mon 11 Dec 2017
By Press Association

A former resident of a Catholic orphanage has told a child abuse inquiry that memories of being force-fed mean he has to leave the room whenever his family eat certain meals.

The witness moved to Smyllum Park in Lanark in 1974, aged around eight years old, along with his two brothers.

He told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in Edinburgh how punishments at the home included being beaten with "Jesus slippers" and being locked in a dark room.

He left Smyllum Park in 1981 but said his time there still has an impact on his life.

The witness said: "What was put in front of you, you had to eat, we were getting force-fed.

"The sister would come behind you, hold your nose and ram it down you.

"It was as if they knew what food you didn't like. I'm not saying they enjoyed (doing) it.

"When my partner cooks, she will make macaroni, lasagna or pasta. The smell... I just have to get away from it.

"If her and my daughter are sitting there eating custard, I can't go anywhere near.

"Just from the force feeding, I can't be near the smell of the stuff."

The witness added "70%" of his time at the home was enjoyable, with holidays, trips to the swimming baths and pocket money.

He said he saw one of the nuns and a worker at the home as parent figures.

Beatings were said to be given to the boys when they were misbehaving or "carrying on".

He told how the worker he saw as a father figure would line them up and give them a "backhand" if he found out they had been doing something they should not have.

Another form of punishment would see boys locked in the pantry or wash room alone with the lights turned off, according to the witness.

The inquiry heard how a social worker would visit the witness and take him away from the home, run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, including to go to Celtic FC matches.

During these meet-ups he said he would "always" speak about the beatings and being forced fed.

He added: "He had a word with them and it changed."

Colin MacAuley QC, counsel to the inquiry, put it to the witness that a particular nun has been spoken to by the inquiry and does not accept there were any beatings during her time there.

The witness added: "That's a lie."

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