Abuse inquiry: Australian orphanage was 'feast of kids'

Media caption, Former child migrant Oliver Cosgrove describes his "days of sobbing" to the inquiry

A former child migrant, sent from Wales to an Australian orphanage, has told a child abuse inquiry how it was a "feast of kids" for paedophiles working there.

Giving evidence, the anonymous 72-year-old said Brother Lawrence Murphy took him in to his bedroom twice, forcing him to perform sex acts.

He said that if he had told anyone at the time, he would have been beaten.

Castledare orphanage near Perth, run by the Christian Brothers order, was like "a legal paedophile ring", he said.

The witness told the inquiry: "If someone did it in the public eye, he'd go to court, he'd get sentenced and he'd serve time.

"If he'd got a habit on, if you're a Christian Brother then it seemed to be a free-for-all.

"We knew what would happen if you told somebody, especially in authority, they would say 'this doesn't happen here.'"

He went on to claim that Brother Murphy was later "transferred from place to place" to effectively hide him.

He said his time at the orphanage still haunted him and was "probably something I will never forget".

He had bottled it up for nearly 30 years and had only chosen to speak out when he found out about the inquiry, he added.

'No pants, no shoes'

Life for the orphans involved hard physical labour including pulling down trees, clearing land, digging out a swimming pool and building a handball court by chipping bricks.

"You had to chip X amount of bricks before you can knock off, before you had something to eat," he told the inquiry, which is looking into abuse in England and Wales.

The boys wore only a grey shirt and shorts, no matter what the weather, he said.

There were no underpants and shoes were only worn when somebody important visited, otherwise feet were bare, he added.

Brothers would be fully clothed with shoes and gloves while the boys shivered in the cold, he said.

Image source, Child Migrants Trust
Image caption, The inquiry heard from former child migrants who were sent to Castledare orphanage in Australia

The inquiry also heard from another former child migrant, Oliver Cosgrove, who is now in his late sixties and who also lived at Castledare.

He said the Christian Brothers, who ran the home, would visit the children's beds at night.

"We were told at Castledare that we always had to sleep on our right hand side so that the heart was closer to heaven," he said.

Brother Murray had fondled him and had also "come to my bed and forced me to give him oral sex," the Inquiry was told.

Mr Cosgrove only fully remembered some of the abuse in 2014 after reading documents connected to an Australian abuse inquiry.

He said: "The memory of this caused me to have several days of sobbing in my apartment, the apartment walls are not very thick. I used to drive down to a riverside reserve which is nearby and just sob for several hours in the night."

The first phase of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is looking at the way organisations have protected children outside the UK.

Between 7,000 and 10,000 children were moved from the UK to Australia after World War Two.

They were recruited by religious institutions from both the Anglican and Catholic churches, or charities, including Barnardo's and the Fairbridge Society, with the aim of giving them a better life.

The inquiry, now into its third day, will hear testimonies from child migrants over a fortnight.

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