St Mary’s, Bishopbriggs

St Mary’s, Bishopbriggs


FOR four decades, David Murphy systematically violated the children in his care in the most degrading and callous fashion.

Murphy, 69, admitted abusing 30 boys at St Margaret’s children’s home in Elie, Fife, and will be sentenced tomorrow.

He was allowed to prey on boys because the establishment – churches, schools and police – turned a blind eye.

The tragic truth, according to Scotland’s leading childcare expert, is that Murphy is not the exception – he is the rule.

According to Professor Kathleen Marshall, who led the inquiry into one of Scotland’s worst scandals, nothing has changed.

Yesterday, Sandy Reid, 43, who exposed the abuse scandal at St Margaret’s, Elie, and sparked the police investigation which led to David Murphy’s conviction, claimed he had also been abused at another two Fife homes – Greenbanks in Leven and Ovenstone, near Pittenweem – 30 years ago.

The Sunday Mail has obtained a confidential report which shows Fife Council were made aware of the allegations in January, 1999. The council have passed Sandy’s compensation claim to its insurers.

Sandy said: “I’m pleased Murphy has finally been brought to justice for the things he did to me and the other boys at St Margaret’s. The abuse I suffered was absolutely horrific.

“But Murphy wasn’t the only one who abused me. The other people should also be made to pay. It wasn’t just one bad apple.

“There were a lot of child abusers looking after kids in Fife during the 1960s and ’70s.”

The council is already facing dozens of potential damages claims from former residents of St Margaret’s. They have passed on Sandy’s complaints to Fife Police.

Professor Kathleen Marshall fears thousands of children have been abused over decades because the care home system was a haven for paedo-philes. And the authorities failed to investigate claims of sickening and widespread abuse because no one wanted to know.

More than 800 cases against institutions are now in limbo because of legal red tape and indifference.

Yesterday, Professor Marshall called on the churches and children’s organisations which ran homes where children suffered to acknowledge their failures.

She spoke out after the Scottish Executive indicated that a Children’s Commissioner will be appointed to protect the country’s most vulnerable youngsters.

Talking about the difficulty in uncovering the facts, she warned: “Taking a defensive posture won’t help anyone. There must be much more openness about what happened in the past. There needs to be more openness in terms of information and access to records.”

Kathleen, based at Glasgow University, was the driving force behind a report on horrific abuse at three Edinburgh homes.

The probe came after “child carers” Gordon Knott and Brian Maclennan were jailed for abusing kids in the ’70s and ’80s.

Professor Marshall now claims those cases were only the tip of the iceberg. She believes abuse went undetected in Scotland’s residential schools, orphanages and care homes for decades .

She said: “Sadly, there was such a huge lack of awareness, because nobody was there to investigate and there was a strong resistance to believe what these children were saying.

“It only takes one or two persons with evil intent to exploit that situation and we can see how this has all happened. In those days, there was no understanding of the compulsive nature of the paedophile.

“This is not simply a problem for Scotland. History has shown abuse occurred in Ireland, Wales and England, too.

“This is an example of how it’s too easy to ignore troublesome children or people. They are labelled and discriminated against. Some children would have tried to speak out, but the process would have been so intimidating, many would simply give up.

“In one case we investigated in Edinburgh, a boy told how he was encouraged to back down after he complained. The abuse started again that night. We desperately need to change the way we respond to such allegations.

“Because there is a huge fear of being associated with such allegations, good, caring people are being frightened off.”

Professor Marshall is fully behind the move to have an Independent Commissioner for Children, with powers to investigate past abuse as well as present-day problems.

She warned: “Setting aside the claims of victims of the past is simply saying they are only out for the compensation money. It’s shocking, but it’s something we hear time and time again.”

Her call comes after Scots lawyer Cameron Fyfe announced 800 victims were yet to be told if they were to get Legal Aid to fund their bids for compensation. The civil actions mainly involve Catholic schools and homes, run by the De La Salle Brothers, Poor Sisters of Nazareth and the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

It is estimated that the Catholic Church in Scotland faces a legal battle that could cost upwards of pounds 20million. The Church has yet to apologise to any of the victims involved.

It is still reeling after the recent conviction of Sister Alphonso, real name Marie Docherty, for cruelty against children at homes run by the Poor Sisters of Nazareth.

Cameron Fyfe says he has been severely hampered over the progress of around 800 civil actions involving abuse because of hold-ups by the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

He said yesterday: “We have been waiting for months and still no further funds have been forthcoming.

“Hundreds have been so badly traumatised, they desperately need counselling and psychological help. Their lives have been ruined. And so have the lives of their families.

“Many of them haven’t even been able to enjoy a happy, loving relationship with their own children because of the horrific abuse they were subjected to while in care.

Beasts at work all over Scotland



Last year, Peter Blaney, 54, was jailed for six years for sexually abusing two brothers at the home 30 years ago.


Evil nun Sister Alphonso was found guilty on four counts of cruelty to children in her care, over 35 years. Victims were beaten and force-fed.


Hundreds of former residents have come forward with claims of horrific abuse in the home, run by the Poor Sisters of Nazareth. The religious order is worth pounds 154million.


Former residents claim they were beaten, force-fed and made to wear soiled underwear on their heads. They claim they were scrubbed with strong disinfectant until their flesh bled and burned.


The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul are being sued by former residents, who claim they suffered beatings and force-feeding.


The Daughters of Charity also ran Bellevue, which has since closed. There are allegations of beatings and force-feeding.


Former residents of the List D school claim they were subjected to electric shock punishments in home-made torture chambers, were beaten with whips and sticks and forced to eat their own vomit.


Police are interviewing former residents of the List D school who claim they were physically abused there more than 30 years ago.


A former cook at the school, Bill Franks, 68, was jailed for three and a half years for the rape of two young boys at the school between 1979 and 1982. Both his victims tried to kill themselves in despair.


Paedophiles Gordon Knott, 47, and Brian Maclennan, 55, were jailed for a total of 27 years in 1999 for a horrendous catalogue of abuse against children in their care during the 1970s and ’80s.


David Murphy, 69, has been warned to expect a jail sentence after admitting 30 offences against boys in his care at the local authority home, dating back 40 years.


Evil careworker Iain MacDonald, 42, was jailed for 18 years in 1996 after subjecting a wheelchair-bound boy to vile sexual abuse for three years at the Leonard Cheshire home.

Sunday Mail Glasgow, 25/02/01

22 responses to “St Mary’s, Bishopbriggs

  1. jamesdow

    I was in both st joes and st marys and belive thehe life of crime I went on to live was a lot to do with the torture beatens and sexual assalts sufferd daily and the hands of sadisic people. We never stood a chance. Fife childrens panmels sent us to these places and even thoigh I was a persistant obsconder no one aslkd why. I have heard of enquires yet have nnever beem approched evem though I had been in two of the homes involved so to me and the hundreds liike me that were just bad apples who went on to spend half our lifes behind prison walls sent there by social work reports who’s information came mostly from these homes what chance did we have. I’m now 55 years old and concider my self one of the lost boys,to the ones that made a decnt life I take my hat of to them. To the people that turnd their back on us and sent us to hell then I hope karma bites you back in the affter life. As for the monsters no doubt most of youi got away with your sins! Nothing new there.

    • greenlight

      Sorry to hear that you, like so, so many were let down by the system James. We don’t have a St Joe’s listed, we can add it to the list of institutions that failed children if you could let us know where it was. We have only scratched the surface but if anyone doubts that this country failed children in care they only need to look here and the evidence is overwhelming. Stay strong James and I hope you and all the others who were failed by ‘the system’ receive the justice that is due to you.

    • Fiona Carrson

      I’m looking for information about approved school 1965 in bishopbrigs glasgow run by lay brothers my brother was sent there but after short time was takin to stobhill hospital for few wks then allowed home to die this place also had pipe band wich attended my brothers funeral all young guys frm that school thank you

  2. John Madden

    I was in St Mary`s from Dec 1968 till June 1970 and never was nor witnessed any form of abuse, I in fact returned for a short spell of my own accord to sort myself out which I did with the help of the staff at that time, I have nothing but praise for them

    • John McDonald

      You were 1 of the lucky ones then, you must have been one of the quoted ones. I don’t remember your name, but I was in there about the same time as you, though I spent quite a few months on the run from it.
      You must have been in when Alex Dowdalls and the night watchman came into St Pats dorm and because the usual crowd at the back kept talking he got us all out of bed after lights out, we had to kneel along the corridor with both hands out and books were put in each hand and you were shouted and bawled at to keep the arms up, for what seemed like ages before we could get back to our beds. We had that a couple of times.

      Surely you must also remember Sconey Weir coming out into the yard and shouting lets have you to line up, if you werent quick enough or for any reason, he would point to you and say “Cmere you Sonny”, when you went over he grabbed your ear and followed it up with a couple of knuckle punches with a giant set of keys in hand to the top of your head. You can’t say you didn’t see that, it happened every day and not just in the yard.

      Like any institution of that sort, there are certain people who they “staff and fellow inmates” know who they can give a hard time to, usually the quiet ones.

      My life was a nightmare before I went in and I came from the frying pan into the fire going into that place, and it screwed me up for many years after it. Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones, I met my wife who had a stable background and got me on the straight and narrow by about 25.
      A lot of guys I know didn’t get that chance.
      A lot of these guys sent there was for truancy, a truancy which was obviously caused by their life’s being out of control. That place should have helped them ease back into society, but instead led many of them into a life of crime, alcohol and drug abuse.

      I can’t believe that someone could look back on that place or any place like it with affection like when you hear folk saying “My schooldays were the best days of my life.” And mean that place.

      I used to see guys sometimes come up there who had been former inmates as if it was a nostalgia cruise, I remember one who stayed several times, I just thought he was a sad F*****.

      I know lots of guys who came through the Mary’s and lived very short lives after it, that in itself tells you it wasn’t exactly a residential school.
      I looked back at your post there and must say I am dumbfounded that you say you never seen any kind of physical abuse, I did every day.

  3. Mark W Traynor

    Great to hear you had a good experience, I was there from 78-79,for truanting from school,found most staff were OK,some were really helpful ,but I did have a lucky escape with regards head cook,he used to give cigarette s,and tried to be friendly,rub himself against you,took me upstairs into TV room,locked the door and tried to to take my trousers down,I was basically rolling about the floor ,sweating,trying to keep this guy from getting his way,luckily I was strong enough to stop him,it was only years later that I read in newspaper that he had been convicting of rapeing to boys,,it was only then I realised that he had attempted to rape me,this had an effect on myself,thinking about those boys who couldn’t fight him off.

    • Brian Anderson

      I also was sent to St.marys bishoprics .we ay also became a victim of bill Frank’s the cook .nick named the new .also Jew boy the kitchen .the dinning room.and up stairs in the TV room …plus some times if u were in the bed in one of the dorm rooms he would sneak in their as well .ta be honest their was no escape from him unless u ran away from the home .then u were safe from him til u got brought back then it would start again .he prayed mainly on the weak and vurntable the ones who thought their family’s doesn’t love them and that .but for years now at been trying ta remember dates a was their from and wen left …aye also ended up down that road of jails and tried ta kill ma self as well at only started speaking bout it with in last 13 years ta ma x wife ta start with then ma mother and the friends and now ma new partner aswel it doesn’t get any easier cause it’s always in the mind …ay also suffer from tourettes as well and can’t remember having it before a went in but can remember having it in their after the sexule abuse started to me .aye also witnessed it happen ta couple other boys who like we were not strong enough to fight against it happen to us …until one day a said enough .can’t remember what was going through my head at the time but me and couple other boys in my situation .smashed a window from out side a locked dorm door .aye still have the scars on ma hand and my wrist from wen a smashed the wire mesh glass window .ta get in the dorm .but whole wasn’t big enough to fit for so we continued ta set that bit of the dorm alight .then other places up stairs as well .but not expecting someone ta be laying in their bedwhitch .a fink ma have been not well hence y he was in their .plus a thought would have only been couple we fires that could have been put out easy .then we realised that wasn’t the case cause we ended up burning it down nearly to the ground as a can recall …was roughly bout 14 and a half years old at time of it aye think .we were scared of wat was happening ta us in side the home and could end Handel no more …then the days later we found our self’s in tGlasgo sheriff court cells for the crimes we done .so we could escape from wat was happening ta us .then the judge remanded us that day on the 110 day petition and we got sent ta long rigend remand centre .in the under 16 year olds bit of it which was called the school boys bit .by then we were even more scared .cause between the sexule assaults happen ta us in the home .ta going ta a jail .was a lot for our such young minds ta deal with …by this time as the pressure of it all . Ave been thinking for years is wen my tourettes has been triggered .by my tromatic abuse at the hands of trusted staff .who should have been taking care of us .and not taking advantage of our weaknesses .for their own discussing perverted pleasure .makes me sick ta ma bones still thinking my only way to escape sick perverted beasts was to burn the place .after court stuff 2 out of 3 of us got not proven verdicts and the 3 Rd guilty .he got 5 years a think it was for his part in it and we got not proven and am the one with the slashed hand and wrist .for started it al of .but don’t care and would do it al over again if a had to .aye ended up in the secure block of the Mary’s .after release a was in and out a trouble and jails til a was 21 year old then a tryed ta turn my life about for ma twins .who were born wile a was inside …this is the first time at sat and wrote it down like this taking me long time to write it cause bringing back lots of bad memores .again .af had the physiatrist over the years trying ta deal with my rage .anger .my past life .but never successfully .now af started seeing a new one .and now wrighting this out .am thinking maybe it’s time ta open up for the help and not hide away thinking it was and been my fault it happens ta me .but .hen realising it’s not my fault am the victim .in his crule sick mind and for his sick pleasure ..he has done this to me inside my mind .and al never ever be able ta escape it until the day a die …always their .even with ma tourettess through the years since it’s happens to me my tourettes always remind me .every day in life the .tourettes a bag got is the body twitches and jerking …making choices with my forte …and hitting my self mainly on my head with my fist or hand hiring my hand of hard surfaces …and the other things .

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  6. Fiona Carrson

    I am trying to find out name of approved school in glasgow think might be bishopbrigs run by lay brothers 1965 this school also taught the young boys to play bagpipes my brother was sent therein. 1965 only there few weeks my mother was told he had been taken to stobhill hospital john was allowed home after couple of weeks he died at home 2 weeks later I need information on this school please

    • John McDonald

      Hi Fiona
      It would be Kenmure St Mary’s in Bishopbriggs
      There was another one on Edinburgh Road called St Josephs.

      • John McDonald

        Hi Fiona
        It would be Kenmure St Mary’s in Bishopbriggs
        There was another one on Edinburgh Road called St Josephs.

  7. Brian Anderson

    dose any one know wer a can start geting help from a need ta find oot more things like wen a went their ta start with and other stuf cause a lot of it al has been put ta back of ma head and can only member serting things about it al so. got ta find oot fue bits snd bobs about them. if anyony can put me in ether right direction on with the right people ta start asking thanks hope use al learning ta cope with things now

    • John McDonald

      Hi Brian
      If you tell us what age you are now then we can probably figure out what year you were there. I went in when I was 14 and was nearly 16 before I got out. Most of the guys were about that age I am sure.

      • Brian

        Alright John Brian here Al be 50 at end of year .and and not been easy but af got ta this age the times af felt like giving up but something inside me said don’t let the bastards win

      • John McDonald

        Hi Brian
        You would have been about 14 in 1982. So I reckon it must have been around then you where in.

      • Brian

        fur some reason a fot bout 81 13 ish .but. Lot a shit Wiz happen in ma life before … during…after a went in. so u any idear roughly when it got burned oot round about that time …a no it got burned oot fur a reason but can’t really remember roughly when .

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  9. James king

    I was in the marys from 19 73 till 19 74 i remember how bad it was my name is jim king from oatlands at the time

    • My name is ALAN STIRLING I was sent to st Mary’s in 1977 the first day I was there that cunt bill Frank’s tried it on with me I left the kitchen out the front door and was on the run for year or so when I went back he was at it again it was a daily fight to keep him off you also worked with scobby weir the farmer that stayed up the hill in one of the bungalowswith his mother he slapped and punched you every day evil bastard he used to send you to deasys riding school to work and if he didn’t get a good report back your life was hell terrible place

      • Mark W Traynor

        Bill Frank’s tried to get my trousers of in TV room,luckily I was strong enough to stop him ,years later I found out he raped two boys when I was in,this has stayed with me since then

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