Monk guilty of catalogue of abuse at East Lothian school

Michael Murphy. Picture: Lesley Donald

Michael Murphy. Picture: Lesley Donald

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A CATHOLIC monk who carried out a catalogue of “abhorrent and despicable” abuse against pupils at a residential school during “a regime of fear” has been jailed for seven years.

Michael Murphy, 82, was jailed yesterday following a hearing before Lord Uist at the High Court in Edinburgh.

He was known as Brother Benedict or Brother Ben at St Joseph’s List D School in Tranent, East Lothian, where he perpetrated indecency and violence against children in his care.

Murphy had denied a string of charges against him during his trial at the High Court. He said: “I should not be here in this court at all.”

However, a jury convicted him on Thursday of 15 charges of assault and indecent assault involving eight boys spanning a decade up to 1981. Murphy was acquitted of a further two charges.

Murphy was previously convicted for similar offences at the High Court in Edinburgh in 2003.

He was convicted of ten assaults on nine boys at the St Ninian’s List D school in Stirlingshire during the 1960s.

Murphy, of Liss, Hampshire, was jailed for two years for the crimes, but the Court of Criminal Appeal reduced his jail term to 12 months.

Victims at his most recent trial told how he had laughed when administering electric shocks to boys using a hand-wound generator dubbed “The Tickler”. 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.

During proceedings, the jury heard another former pupil at St Joseph’s describe how he was sexually molested by Murphy.

The 49-year-old witness said: “He said he was checking me.”

One former pupil said of the institution: “It was just run on a regime of fear.”

Yesterday, Lord Uist told Murphy that the imposition of a custodial term was the only sentence available to him.

The judge added: “The crimes set out in charges 11, 12 and 14 consisted of particularly abhorrent and despicable sexual abuse of two boys. In behaving as you did, you betrayed the trust reposed in you as a guardian of those boys and flouted your religious ­calling.

“I do not know what caused you to treat those boys, who have clearly all been damaged by what they suffered at your hands, in such a cruel manner.

“Your continued denial of these crimes shows that you have no remorse or regret.

“It has taken a long time for justice to catch up with you, but the day of reckoning has now arrived.”

Murphy was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

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