Victims’ anger at torturer’s jail term

The Glasgow Herald (Scotland), July 15, 2003

Victims of a monk who tortured pupils with a home-made electric shock machine at a school for problem children reacted angrily yesterday as he was jailed for two years.

Michael Murphy, 69, formerly known as Brother Benedict, was convicted last month of 10 charges of physical abuse at St Ninian’s List D school, Stirlingshire during the 1960s.

At the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday, Murphy of Clayton Court, Liss, Hampshire, was jailed along with co-accused James McKinstrey, 70, who was found guilty of two indecent assaults and two charges of indecency.

McKinstrey, the school’s former nightwatchman, of Burnbank, Port of Mentieth, Stirling, also received a two-year sentence and has been added to the sex offenders’ register for 10 years. He had prowled the corridors of St Ninian’s at night to sexually molest boys.

Charles McKenna, 83, formerly a woodwork teacher, of Colquhoun Street, Stirling, was also found guilty of two charges of indecent assault and one charge of indecency. He was ordered to appear at the High Court in Forfar today to be sentenced, after forgetting his hearing aid yesterday.

Victims of the men left court disappointed at the sentences. One said: “I am shocked at the sentences. Two years is diabolical.”

Another 52-year-old man was in tears as he recalled the monk’s treatment, when he made pupils hold metal rods wired up to his generator.

“I was electrocuted in the boot room. Brother Benedict saw that as some sort of kick. Your punishment was to stand there while he turned these sort of dials. You were shaking. You could not let go,” said the man – now married with three children – who was sent to St Ninian’s for truancy in 1961.

During an earlier trial, a jury heard horrific stories from former pupils at the school in the 1960s and 1970s when they were aged between 10 and 12.

Murphy carried out what the prosecution in the original trial called a “catalogue of assaults” while he was a teacher at the school in the 1960s. As well as the monk’s electric shocks, pupils were whipped with knotted laces and made to eat their own vomit. One boy’s arm was broken when the monk lost his temper over a cheeky remark. They were also sexually abused in dormitories and in the school’s woodwork room.

McKinstrey had admitted to “tampering” with a boy, in a police interview before the trial. However, the pensioner pleaded not guilty to all the offences, which took place in the 1970s and early 1980s.

One witness said McKinstrey had cuddled him and put his hand down his trousers on a walk with other boys.

McKenna, found guilty of three charges of sexual abuse committed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, consistently denied the charges. One witness said McKenna had put his hand down his trousers as he sat on the teacher’s knee, getting his work checked.

After hearing pleas for leniency on behalf of Murphy and McKinstrey, Lord Carloway said a jury had found there had been a breach of trust and prison sentences were inevitable.

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