Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Monk guilty of abusing pupils at St Joseph's List D School in Tranent

A Catholic monk has been found guilty of a catalogue of abuse to pupils at an East Lothian residential school during "a regime of fear".

Michael Murphy, 82, was known as Brother Benedict at St Joseph's List D School in Tranent.

Irish-born Murphy denied a string of charges against him during his trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

A jury convicted him of 15 charges of assault and indecent assault involving eight boys over the decade up to 1981.

Murphy was acquitted of a further two charges on Thursday.

Electric shocks

Victims told his trial he had laughed when administering electric shocks to boys.

One boy had his hands burned and another lapsed into unconsciousness.

One pupil was locked in an unlit cupboard overnight and another was urinated on by the De La Salle brother.

One 57-year-old man told the High Court in Edinburgh: "Because of what happened to me in there my children never went to a Catholic school."

Another former pupil at St Joseph's described how he was painfully molested by Murphy during a sex attack.

The 49-year-old said: "As soon as he saw me turn around he punched me on the jaw to make me turn away. "

Another boy was abused by the monk and an accomplice when he was aged 14 or 15 in the showers.

He was also warned that if he told anyone of the sexual abuse he would never see his parents again.

Belt marks

A 57-year-old man told the court he suffered a beating at the school that left him screaming as a belt was wielded on him. "The marks are still on my back today," he said.

"You got that if you brought the school into disrepute, if you brought the police to the door," he said.

One teenager told how he was electrocuted until he blacked out.

He was asked by Murphy's defence counsel, Peter Ferguson QC, how the electricity was applied to him and replied: "I couldn't really tell you. All I felt was getting undressed, tied round my privates.

"The shocks were all over me, my head and my arms. It was like a stabbing sensation I was getting."

Murphy, from Hampshire, who trained as a social worker, had maintained his innocence and told jurors: "As a matter of fact I should not be here in this court at all. I have done nothing wrong in St Joseph's."

He said he had taken three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and told the court: "I am a member of a religious order. I have never been involved in sexual abuse in my life with a man, woman or child."

The trial judge, Lord Uist, adjourned the proceedings after the jury returned its verdicts on Thursday afternoon.

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