Boy of seven DIED after being given vicious beating by staff member at Scottish Catholic school
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) was told Aldo Moroni was punished by a religious brother called Brother Germanus – real name David McKell – for taking too long to use the toilet at Columba’s College in Largs, Ayrshire
A boy of seven at a top Catholic school died after being given a ‘vicious’ beating by a member of staff, an inquiry heard yesterday.
The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) was told Aldo Moroni was punished for taking too long to use the toilet.
A former pupil, using the name Edward, said he had been told that Aldo, who died in 1980, had been ‘killed’ at St Columba’s College in Largs, Ayrshire.
Edward, 64, said Aldo died after a beating by a religious brother called Brother Germanus – real name David McKell.
A hearing in Edinburgh heard that Edward was at the school in the 1960s, and was sexually abused on dozens of occasions by McKell.
In 2014, Edward’s nephew, also a former pupil, told him he was at St Columba’s when Aldo had been ‘killed’, telling him: ‘It haunts me to this day.’
Edward said: ‘Aldo Moroni, a little boy, was getting a vicious beating on the landing outside the toilet for supposedly being in the toilet too long.
‘[My nephew said] there was screaming and holy murder going on; it got worse, and the next thing we [the nephew and his classmates] knew, there’s an ambulance there, and the next thing we knew we are at a funeral in Dunoon – Aldo was dead.’
Senior counsel to the inquiry Colin MacAulay QC said according to Edward’s testimony, his nephew ‘drew a link between the beating happening and the death’.
Edward said he was ‘dumbfounded’ by the news, and that his nephew had told him the children were informed at the time that Aldo had died after a heart attack.
The inquiry was told Edward felt guilty of ‘cowardice’ for not raising the alarm about McKell after he sexually abused Edward during his time at the prestigious boarding school.
Edward said: ‘I thought about my cowardice – could I have stopped that boy being killed?’
A photograph of Aldo Moroni appears on his gravestone. A former pupil, using the name Edward, said he had been told that Aldo, who died in 1980, had been ‘killed’
As an adult, Edward told the Marist Brothers, who ran St Columba’s, about his own ordeal – and claimed the order had urged him not to tell the police.
Recounting his time at St Columba’s, Edward said he was seven or eight when ‘vicious’ McKell targeted him for sexual abuse on about ‘two dozen’ occasions.
He tried to run away in around 1964 or 1965 because he was living in ‘absolute fear and horror’ of the paedophile brother.
Edward said he would be taken from his bed by McKell ‘in the dead of night’, and forced to take part in a bizarre ritual which involved climbing up to retrieve a black leather bag from a loft.
When he came back down, McKell would tell him he was dirty and instruct him to take off his pyjamas and get into a bath, before sexually abusing him – and hitting him if he cried out.
Edward, who described St Columba’s as a ‘cesspit’, said: ‘I was crying and that was not pleasing him, you would get an extra slap for crying.’
He told the inquiry: ‘I would describe myself as being zombified… I wasn’t able to speak.’
Recounting his time at St Columba’s, Edward said he was seven or eight when ‘vicious’ McKell targeted him for sexual abuse on about ‘two dozen’ occasions. Pictured: One of the school buildings that is now in private hands- the current owners are not linked to wrongdoing
McKell, in his bare feet and wearing a cross, would injure him so much when he struck his head that his nose would bleed, then take him back to his bed – before tucking him in and making him ‘cosy’.
After his brother died in 1965, Edward said McKell told him the news, saying: ‘Your brother has gone to Heaven.’
Edward, who said the brothers at the school were ‘godlike’, said McKell had told him: ‘If you ever utter a word of our little secret, you will never see him [Edward’s brother] again.’
Later, Edward went to St Joseph’s College in Dumfries – also run by the Marists – where one religious brother kept a strap wrapped around his chest – and used to ‘pull it out like John Wayne’.
He left without any qualifications and in 2014 contacted the Marist Brothers, telling them about his experiences.
A brother called Ronnie McEwan told him another boy, 10 years younger than Edward, had been abused by McKell, who had also called himself Brother David. McKell died in 1998.
Edward said Mr McEwan had told him: ‘Do not phone the police’, as he insisted the order would do it on his behalf.
But Edward said he later found out police were never told.