Glamis House, Glenrothes
Byline: MARION SCOTT and BRIAN LIRONI EXCLUSIVE
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
NAZARETH HOUSE, LASSWADE, MIDLOTHIAN
Last year, Peter Blaney, 54, was jailed for six years for sexually abusing two brothers at the home 30 years ago.
NAZARETH HOUSE, ABERDEEN
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.
NAZARETH HOUSE, GLASGOW
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.
NAZARETH HOUSE, KILMARNOCK
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.
SMYLLUM PARK HOUSE, LANARK
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.
ST NINIAN’S, GARTMORE
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.
ST JOSEPH’S, TRANENT
Police are interviewing former residents of the List D school who claim they were physically abused there more than 30 years ago.
ST MARY’S, BISHOPBRIGGS
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.
ST MARGARET’S, ELIE
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.
GLAMIS HOUSE, GLENROTHES
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.