Tuesday, July 5, 2022
Court & CrimeRecord £1.4m damages awarded to man allegedly abused by monks in school...

Record £1.4m damages awarded to man allegedly abused by monks in school 40 years ago

A RECORD £1.4m in damages have been awarded to a man who was allegedly abused by three monks in school.

The man, known only as AB, secured the sum after claiming to have been sexually assaulted and beaten by monks at St Ninian’s School in Falkland, Fife, 40 years ago.

The Christian Brothers, a religious sect that ran the school, tried to have the legal case thrown out but a sheriff dismissed the attempt and ordered them to pay damages.

The 53-year-old has now received the highest sum ever to be awarded to a survivor in Scotland after the order by Sheriff Christopher Dickson.

St Ninian's school.
AB attended the school in Fife between 1980 and 1981.                                                                            (C) Google Maps

It is alleged that Brothers Ryan, Farrel and Kelly attacked the then 12-year-old over a 14 month period from February 1980 whilst he was staying at the school.

He claimed to have been molested, raped and beaten by all three Brothers and was allegedly even forced to watch attacks on other children.

AB said Kelly, Farrell and Ryan commonly targeted kids from a dormitory they referred to as “the favourite boy’s room”.

The monks would allegedly frequently play the record ‘Ashes to Ashes’ by David Bowie during their attacks – a song that continues to spark harmful flashbacks for the victim.

AB kept his past secret from his wife and daughter until he opened up for the first time in November 2013 when he spoke to police officers.

AB said: “I just broke down in tears. Until then I’d been living in my head for 30 years.

“I used to hide all my emotions. If there was something about abuse on the TV then I’d go to the toilet and hide so no one would see any reaction on my face.

“So, when I finally spoke to the police there was a strange duality to everything.

“It was terrifying but empowering. Exhausting but freeing. Painful but therapeutic.

“I still wonder if speaking out when I did was the right time and how things might have been different if I waited one more year.

“But it’s all hypothetical. All that matters is I did speak – and I was believed.”

In July 2016 at the high court in Glasgow, Brother Farrel was convicted of four abuse charges whilst Brother Kelly was convicted of six charges.

They were both jailed in August 2016 – Farrell for five years and Kelly for 10 years. Brother Ryan died in July 2013 before he could be investigated.

AB’s evidence did not play a part in the convictions but this month a sheriff ruled the abuse did occur due to the volume of supporting evidence gathered.

In his 173-page judgment, Sheriff Dickson said: “I did not consider that the death of one of three alleged abusers automatically resulted in the defender proving substantial prejudice in so far as the case is directed against Brother Ryan.

“The pursuer’s psychiatric conditions have prevented him from working for the past 38 years. I find that the defender is liable to make reparation to the pursuer.”

Welcoming the court decision, AB said: “Even though the Crown couldn’t prosecute anyone in relation to my evidence I am glad the Sheriff and court believed me.

“I’ll always feel the pain. I’ll always have flashbacks.

“But at least now I’m not alone. I am supported. I have been recognised. And I can now slowly look to the future instead of being chained to my past.”

AB was sent to St Ninian’s in February 1980 when he was 12 years old and stayed there until April 1981 – when there were approximately 60 pupils at the school.

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