Former teacher claims boys were abused by other pupils at religious school

A former teacher at a residential childcare institution has claimed boys would sexually assault younger children at the home.

The witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, worked at the Catholic-run St Ninian’s in Falkland, Fife, during the late 1950s and 1960s.

He told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in Edinburgh that a strap would be used to hit youngsters’ hands if they had repeatedly misbehaved.

Senior counsel to the inquiry Colin MacAulay QC then asked if the backside would ever be targeted.

The witness, now in his 80s, said: “If it was a serious, persistent offence – like sexual abuse of an older boy on a junior boy – and if I had spoken to him on a number of times, then I would strap.

“I can’t remember doing it, what I’m saying is I could well have done.”

Mr MacAulay then asked if older children had sexually assaulted younger ones, to which the witness replied “Yes”.

The witness broke down for a brief period while describing the death of a child in his care, which the inquiry heard had been accidental.

The boy was said to have had a heart condition which meant he was banned from taking part in sporting activities.

However, he did have a boxing match against another boy and collapsed soon afterwards.

The inquiry also heard that the institution – run by the Christian Brothers – needed more staff, as employees were “overworked”.

The witness, who was a brother in the religious order, added: “It was 14 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The inquiry before judge Lady Smith continues.