Soldier sexually abused children at care home, inquiry told

Victims ‘just piece of meat’ to alleged abuser, North’s Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry hears

Two men have said they were sexually abused as children by a visiting British soldier at a residential home run by Anglican missionaries, the North’s Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry has been told.

Two men have said they were sexually abused as children by a visiting British soldier at a residential home run by Anglican missionaries, the North’s Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry has been told.

 

Two men have said they were sexually abused as children by a visiting British soldier at a residential home run by Anglican missionaries, the North’s Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry has been told. Both men are now resident in Australia.

One of the witnesses said that the soldier treated those he allegedly abused as “just pieces of meat” at the Manor House Children’s Home near Lisburn, Co Antrim during the 1960s.

That witness who gave evidence by video link on Wednesday said he did not complain at the time because “as children we were told never to open our mouths and that children should be seen and not heard”.

He said that he entered the home in 1964 after his family, which was originally from Northern Ireland, returned from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He said his parents had divorced and his father, who seldom visited, was given custody.

The home was run by the Society for the Irish Church Missions to the Roman Catholics which was established to convert Catholics to Protestantism. Manor House, which had links to the Church of Ireland, operated from 1927 to 1984.

The 61-year-old witness is one of six people who have made allegations to the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry of physical and sexual abuse at the residential home.

He said the soldier used to arrive at the home wearing his green army uniform. The man said he was abused in the TV room of the home and also in one of the bedrooms. He said he was forced to masturbate the soldier. He believed some of the staff must have known what the alleged abuser was doing.

The witness said the alleged abuser bribed and manipulated some of the boys at the home with sweets and gifts. He believed the soldier may have abused a number of children at the home.

Other than these incidents he had no complaints with the manner in which he was cared for at the home, he said. One of the affects of the abuse was that he was never able to cuddle his now 28-year-old son “or tell him that I love him”.

In a statement to the Inquiry, the Irish Church Missions unreservedly apologised for the alleged abuse at the home by the soldier. It said while staff did supervise children that “unfortunately such supervision was not enough to stop an opportunistic, determined and devious abuser”.

Another 61-year-old witness ,now also living in Australia, who was in the home at the same time as the first witness, also gave evidence of being abused by the soldier.

He said that the abuse happened in the television room when the lights were switched off so that the children could have a better view of the black and white TV.

He said he was able to “mask” what he was doing by his long trench coat. Also giving evidence by video link he said the abuser was “cunning” in that he “groomed” children for abuse by bribing them with sweets and gifts.

A statement from a third witness, who was not fit enough to give evidence in person, was read to the inquiry. He gave evidence of being forced to masturbate a visitor to the home. The witness said he remembered another child informing staff about the abuse but he was told he was “wicked for making up such stories”.