Belfast Telegraph

Belfast children's home boss beat girl with sandal and pole in regular attacks, court told

By Ashleigh McDonald

A former resident of a Belfast children's home has told a jury she was beaten with a wooden sandal and pole during repeated attacks by a senior staff member.

The alleged victim, who was in the care of Bawnmore Children's Home during the mid-1970s, claimed she was left with a bloody nose after being struck on the head with the sandal.

Giving evidence at Belfast Crown Court, the now 51-year-old said Ruth Colvin, who at the time of the alleged offending was in charge of the home, also pulled her hair and verbally humiliated her.

The defendant, from Glendhu Manor in east Belfast, appeared in court on a mobility scooter to stand trial on 10 counts of child cruelty.

The 73-year old denies assaulting the woman and her brother, who was also a resident of the home between 1974 and 1981.

The jury was told that six of the cruelty charges against Colvin related to the woman, while four were concerned with her brother.

When questioned by police about the allegations, the defendant said she remembered both siblings, but insisted she never hit them.

When the woman was called to give evidence about the claims, she detailed how she arrived at Bawnmore in October 1974, aged nine.

Asked about Colvin, the woman said she was the house mother and the children were told to call her 'auntie Ruth'.

The alleged victim said that during a holiday to Scotland, she shared a chalet with the defendant, who she claimed called her a "wee b*****" and said "you will not be the blue-eyed doll" after she came back late to her room one night.

The woman alleged that as well as being struck with a sandal she recalled as being plastic on top but with a solid wooden bottom, she was also beaten with a pole.

When asked how many times these incidents took place, she replied: "It was repeated two or three times a week, over a period of about 18 months."

The woman reported the claims to the PSNI in 2011, after which a probe was launched.

Asked why she went to the police, she replied: "There was something eating at me.

"I was having nightmares and flashbacks... I just want to get closure on this."

The case continues.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph