July 2003

Anger over abuse sentences

Two-year prison sentences handed out to a former monk and another man for abusing children in their care have been condemned by their victims.

Michael Murphy, 69, was known as Brother Benedict and was former housemaster at St Ninian’s School, in Stirlingshire.

Murphy, whose address was given as Hill Brow, near Liss, in Hampshire, had been found guilty of 10 offences of physical abuse, including giving electric shocks


James McKinstrey, 70, (pictured above) of Burnbank, Port of Mentieth, Stirling, who was a former night watchman, was convicted of four counts of sex abuse.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, the two men appeared for sentence and were told they would both serve two years in prison.

The jail terms were greeted with derision by former pupils who attended the List D school for young boys with behavioural problems in the 1960s and 1970s.

One man said: “I am shocked at the sentences. Two years is diabolical.”

A 52-year-old man said Murphy made pupils hold metal rods wired up to a generator.

He said: “I was electrocuted in the boot room. Brother Benedict saw that as some sort of kick.

“Your punishment was to stand there while he turned these sort of dials. You were shaking. You could not let go.”

During the trial, the court heard how 10-to-12-year-old pupils at the school were whipped, forced to eat their own vomit and were sexually abused in dormitories and the school’s woodwork room.

A boy’s arm was broken when Murphy lost his temper with him.

St Ninian’s was run by monks from the de la Salle order, and closed in 1982. The order now faces claims for damages.

Lord Carloway, who heard pleas for leniency on behalf of the two men, said a jury found there was a breach of trust and prison sentences were inevitable.