Former Dumfries boarding school pupil gives evidence in child abuse inquiry

A former pupil at a Catholic boarding school in Dumfries has told of how the institution was a “hellhole” that was “nothing more than a paedophile ring”.

The 60-year-old man - who can be only known as Andrew - told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry how he was repeatedly sexually abused whilst attending St Joseph’s College.

Andrew told how the inquiry how he attended the school - which was founded by the Marist Brothers religious order - in the 1970s.

He said he was preyed upon by his French teacher Brother Damian - a member of the religious order - and his colleagues at the school and at a nearby home for retired members of the order.

On Friday, Andrew told the inquiry that the abuse has had a lasting effect on his life.

He said: “I describe it as a hellhole. All the b******s in that place covered each other’s back. It nothing more than a paedophile ring.

“I don’t enjoy life. I survive it. I have tried to take my life on numerous occasions. I have carried the guilt on my back all my life for the b******s’s crimes.

“I have nothing but absolute hatred for these people.”

Andrew was giving evidence at an inquiry which has been called to establish the extent of abuse of children in care in Scotland. Judge Lady Smith is presiding over the inquiry.

It is currently hearing evidence about abuse which took place at St Joseph’s College in Dumfries.

The school became part of part of the state system in 1981 but was a fee paying institution before that time.

On Friday, Andrew told the inquiry that he was a boarding pupil there between 1971 and 1975. He said his parents decided to send him there because of its excellent reputation.

Andrew said he felt very homesick and that his French teacher Brother Damian - real name Thomas McCann - took advantage of that feeling. He said Brother Damian would come to the dormitory he was sleeping in and would take him to his room.

Andrew told Colin MacAulay QC, the counsel to the inquiry, that another brother who was supposed to care for the children at night never stopped Damian from taking him away.

He said that this brother would often reprimand him for going to the toilet in the middle of the night.

Andrew added: “I used to be s**t scared about going to the toilet as there were swinging doors and he would hear them going - he’d be out like a shot.

“However, he must have known that I was out of my bed - I was never pulled up for being out of my bed Damian took me away.”

Andrew said that on the weekends, Damian would take him into Dumfries for treats.

He added: “I thought it was great - there was a Wimpey Bar there. I was getting a milkshake and a burger. He wasn’t in his robes. I was hoping I’d bump into my mum and dad but I never did.”

But Andrew said he was abused afterwards by Brother Damian.

He said: “He took my top off. I knew what he was doing was wrong. He was places where he shouldn’t be.

“I was absolutely petrified to see an old man doing that to me. I froze like a rabbit in the headlights.

“I have tortured myself all my life about how I didn’t run out. I froze.”

Andrew also told the inquiry that he was “sodomised” at Kinharvie House, a retirement facility, and was left with physical injuries.

He said he was also sexually abused by a priest at another location.

Andrew said he was also physically abused.

He added: “These b*****ds got as much kicks out of battering the headlights out of you as they did from the sexual abuse.”

Andrew said his abusers also used the theology of the Catholic Church against him during the abuse.

He added: “These b*****ds are also using their religion by putting it onto you. They say that you are committing a sinful act.”

Andrew said he has gone through his life with mental health problems.

He added: “I have nightmares every other night. You relive it over and over again.

“For 45 years I have felt angry and dirty.”

The inquiry continues.