Child abuse inquiry to report Smyllum Park orphanage findings

Smyllum House, formerly Smyllum Park Orphange, where many children allegedly suffered abuse from the nuns who were supposed to look after them.

THE Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry will today publish its findings from evidence it has heard about the Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanark. 

Evidence was heard across 20 days from 54 witnesses about their experiences of Smyllum Park and Bellvue House in Rutherglen.

A further 21 written statements of evidence were read during the public hearings.

The case is also examining other residential institurions run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

Read More: After waiting years to be heard, the children of Smyllum tell their heartbreaking stories.

Lady Smith, who is chairing the inquiry, will set out today whether it had been established that children were abused while in the care of the nuns.

Lady Smith is chairing the inquiry. (Nick Mailer)

Former residents of Smyllum Park have alleged that abuse was routine and beatings and extreme punishments a regular part of life at the orphanage.

Other allegations of nuns covering up deaths of children have been claimed since the inquiry was set up in October 2015.

“She was just kicking into him”

For over 50 years, Sammy Carr’s family believed he died at Smyllum of a brain
tumour. His sister Ann Marie Carr, now 64, said nuns told her he’d fallen ill after playing with a dead rat.

Sammy Carr’s family were told he died of a brain tumour by nuns.

But in 2015, a former resident claimed to have seen a nun attacking Sammy, 6, right before his death. He alleged: “Sammy was on the floor curled up in a ball and she was just kicking into him, kicking into his back, into his head.”

Evidence from the trial also includes one woman who claims she was given electro-shock treatment at the age of 4 in the 1960s as well as being sexually abused and forced to eat her own vomit.

Read More: ‘Sweet Jesus have mercy on the souls of the children of Smyllum’: For 100 years, the words that were their only memorial

Lady Smith said of the forthcoming publication: “I am very grateful to all the witnesses; they engaged helpfully and openly with the Inquiry.

“I appreciate how challenging it will have been for them – applicants, Sisters, members of staff and other witnesses alike and I thank them for the dignity with which they gave their evidence.

“In the document, I set out the findings that I have been able to make on the evidence presented during the case study.

“I am doing so to make applicants, witnesses and members of the public aware, as soon as possible, of whether I am satisfied that children were abused while in the care of the Order and if so, of the nature and extent of that abuse.”

Evidence was also heard from 12 Sisters who worked at Smyllum and Bellevue, covering the period 1957 to its closure in 1981, and from the Provincial and Safeguarding representative of the Order.

The second case study, which investigated residential child care establishments run by the Sisters of Nazareth, concluded its public hearings in July.

On 23 October, the inquiry will move on to its third case study, examining the provision of residential care by three non-religious voluntary organisations including Quarriers Homes, The Aberlour Childcare Trust and Barnardo’s.