Boy buried without headstone after orphanage failed to pay for one, inquiry told

The sister of a young boy who died at an orphanage has told an abuse inquiry he was buried without a headstone - despite a pledge from staff they would pay for one.

Anne Marie Carr, who waived her right to anonymity, attended Smyllum Park in Lanark between 1960 and 1964 along with her brother Samuel.

The inquiry has been hearing evidence in Edinburgh (Nick Mailer/PA)

The inquiry has been hearing evidence in Edinburgh (Nick Mailer/PA)

In December, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in Edinburgh heard the boy died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of six following an E.coli infection, which he could have caught by touching a dead rat.

Ms Carr told how her grandfather and uncle attended his funeral and were to pay for a headstone, but were told not to because the Catholic-run home would foot the bill.

She said: "We were told that they would get a headstone for him as a worker was fond of him, but there was never a headstone."

Before a forensic expert gave evidence last year about the boy's cause of death, claims had been made that Sammy died in 1964 days after being beaten by a nun at the institution, which closed in 1981.

Ms Carr, now in her sixties, added that nuns would hit children with rosary beads and crucifixes, while residents could be forced to sit at a kitchen table through the night until morning if they did not eat their food.

Another former resident broke down as he told of witnessing the death of his friend Francis McCall after being hit on the head with a golf club.

William Wicher, 69, stayed at the orphanage run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul between 1957 and 1963.

He said he suffered bullying because of his "small" stature and received regular corporal punishment from nuns and workers.

According to Mr Wicher, who also waived his right to anonymity, a blow to the ear by one staff member left him hard of hearing for the rest of his life.

The inquiry heard how children had been playing a game with a golf club when his friend, known as Frankie, was accidentally struck on the temple.

Mr Wicher broke down when it dawned on him the reason his friend did not know he should move away was because he was also "partially deaf".

He said: "What's happened is when the kid's gone to move back, Frankie wouldn't have heard him - that's what happened, he just didn't hear him."

Speaking outside the inquiry, Mr Wicher said the nuns would have to "answer to God" for their actions.

He said: "When you're brought up in that environment, sometimes it's your family that suffers because you don't know how to handle arguments.

"You tend to walk away. I think (the inquiry) has helped a lot, but it's also helped my two children understand why I wasn't always there for them."

Another witness later gave evidence on her now deceased mother's experience at the home, where she had stayed between 1917 and 1928 from the age of two.

It stemmed from a conversation the two had decades ago about her time in care, but she had only later realised the impact it had on her mother's emotional capabilities.

The witness said: "She never said she loved you. I know she cared, but she never showed any outward sign of caring.

"Now we know, we think if we would have known sooner, it could have been so different."

A statement previously read out on behalf of the charity which ran Smyllum said they were against "any form of abuse" and offered "sincere and heartfelt apologies to anyone who suffered any form of abuse in our care".

The inquiry before Lady Smith continues on Friday.

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