Catholic orphanage in Lanark 'force fed' children

Image caption,
Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanark

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry has been told by a former resident that he was force-fed at a Catholic orphanage.

The witness said that, even as an adult, he has to leave the room when his family eat certain meals.

As a boy of about eight years old, he moved to Smyllum Park in Lanark in 1974.

The inquiry in Edinburgh heard from the witness that punishments in the orphanage included being beaten with "Jesus slippers".

On other occasions, children were locked in a dark room.

Another witness June Smith, who waived her right to anonymity, later told the inquiry she had been severely punished for wetting the bed.

Ms Smith, who lived in the home from 1969 until 1981, added: "(One of the sisters) would come in the morning, pull you out of bed and put you in a cold bath.

"Sometimes she would throw disinfectant over you and put her knuckles right into your head, that was sore - really sore."

She added that children who wet their beds were made to carry their sheets up a hill so everybody knew what had happened, which meant they would be bullied.

She added: "I (still) wake up every night. When I get to sleep I'm alright until 2am, then that's me until 6am or 7am."

Eating issues

The man who gave evidence earlier said he left Smyllum Park in 1981 but his time there still had an impact on his life.

He said: "What was put in front of you, you had to eat, we were getting force-fed.

"The sister would come behind you, hold your nose and ram it down you.

"It was as if they knew what food you didn't like. I'm not saying they enjoyed (doing) it.

"When my partner cooks, she will make macaroni, lasagne or pasta. The smell... I just have to get away from it.

"If her and my daughter are sitting there eating custard, I can't go anywhere near.

"Just from the force feeding, I can't be near the smell of the stuff."

The witness added that "70%" of his time at the home - run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul - was enjoyable, with holidays, trips to the swimming baths and pocket money.

Football outings

He also said he saw one of the nuns and a worker at the home as parent figures.

But he told how the worker he saw as a father figure would line the children up and give them a "backhand" if he found out they had been doing something they should not have.

Another form of punishment would see boys locked in the pantry or wash room alone with the lights turned off, he said.

The witness described how a social worker would visit him and take him away from the home, including to go to Celtic FC matches.

On these occasions, he said he would "always" speak about the beatings and being forced fed.

He added: "He had a word with them and it changed."

Colin MacAuley QC, counsel to the inquiry, put it to the witness that a particular nun has been spoken to by the inquiry and does not accept there were any beatings during her time there.

The witness responded: "That's a lie."

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