‘They were savages as far as I’m concerned’

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A survivor of the horrific abuse suffered by children at St Francis Boys’ Home has spoken of his relief at this week’s verdict.

Gordon McIntosh was just nine when he was sent to the home after his mother found she was unable to cope with her four children.

While he escaped the clutches of JamesMcCann, Mr McIntosh was regularly beaten and assaulted by Father John Ryan who ran the home.

Father Ryan, who was arrested during one failed investigation, died in 2008 before the latest series of investigations started.

“I feel relieved,” said Mr McIntosh. “I’m glad its almost over. I’m glad for the boys who suffered at the hands of McCann.”

Mr McIntosh said he was regularly beaten and humilated at the home. “It was an evil place. The staff were just evil people . They were all savages as far as I’m concerned.

“Lots of boys still have physical and mental scars. All the time we were living in fear. Any time of the day or night they would find an excuse to beat or kick you.

“I have lost all respect for priests and nuns.”

He said the paedophile Jimmy Savile was also a visitor although the people at the home claimed it was his twin brother!

“Witnesses saw him coming out of the home. They saw him with a priest who had sexually abused boys,” he said.

“We knew who he was because we watched Top Of The Pops.”

Mr McIntosh said sometimes boys ran away, some even making it to nearby houses to ask for help. But they were always taken back to the home and then abused again for running away.

“Nothing was ever investigated,” he said.

“John Ryan used to whip the boys until they bled, he was so evil.

“People should have listened to us.

“The place made Oliver Twist look like a holiday camp.”

Mr McIntosh said boys would often have blood blisters an inch in height from the beatings they received.

“It was a paedophile and bully playground,” he said.

Now 66 he left the home at the age of 15 and has only been back once. But he keeps in touch with some of the survivors.

And there is one incident which still haunts them.

Twelve years old William McCarthy was killed in 1967 when he fell under the wheels of a tractor driven by a Father at the home, which was used to mow the football pitch there.

An inquest ruled accidental death but one of the two witnesses was Fr Ryan who was the only person interviewed.

Mr McIntosh believes the full truth of William’s death was never investigated.

William is now buried in Biggleswade cemetery.