UK

Child abuse inquiry: Orphanage victim 'fought back'

Edward Delaney
Image caption Mr Delaney said he was severely affected by the psychological damage of his treatment

A victim of physical and sexual abuse at a Catholic orphanage in Australia has revealed how he turned on one of his tormentors - threatening to cut his throat if he "laid a finger on him".

Edward Delaney told the inquiry into child abuse a Christian Brother had regularly beaten him with a strap, to which a hacksaw blade had been fixed.

He was among thousands of children sent to Australia in the post-war period under UK government-approved schemes.

Mr Delaney said it was "kidnapping".

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

Mr Delaney was housed at the Bindoon Boys Town orphanage, in Western Australia.

It was run by the Christian Brothers order, with residents forced to construct outbuildings.

In the post-war years, British children 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 reducing pressure on UK orphanages and increasing the population of Commonwealth countries.

How will the inquiry work?

Mr Delaney, who is now in his late 60s, said: "It's not deportation, it's not sending me to another country to uphold the British flag or whatever.

"I was taken from my mother, which is a very serious offence - I accuse the British government of kidnapping."

He managed to overcome his upbringing to build a successful career as an investment broker.

But he told the inquiry he was still severely affected by the psychological damage of his childhood.

Image copyright Clifford Walsh
Image caption Outbuildings at Bindoon were constructed by migrant children

The canings left him unable to sit for two weeks at a time and beatings on his hands resulted in him being told later, aged 21, that he had broken fingers.

But he said after making the threat to the brother who beat him - "the most vicious man I have ever met in my entire life, even by today's standards" - he was left alone.

At one point Mr Delaney collapsed with rheumatic fever and spent nearly a year in hospital without being visited.

"We were nobody's - who cared about us anyway?" he said.

'Brother's pet'

He added that he had been raped regularly for 18 months by another brother during his time at Bindoon.

"Every Christian Brother had a pet - I didn't understand what that meant at the time but I do now," he said.

Mr Delaney said attempts to report, during confession, what had been happening achieved no results.

He recalls being told "Say three Hail Marys and you would be forgiven".

He told the inquiry: "I just wondered why I have to be forgiven - I had done nothing wrong."

The inquiry is currently hearing two weeks of evidence from people sent abroad as children.

In total it is conducting 13 investigations over the next five years into claims made against local authorities, religious organisations, the armed forces and public and private institutions.

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