HARROWING evidence was yesterday given to a national child abuse inquiry by a man from Greenock.

The inquiry heard that a six-year-old boy died 10 days after being kicked on the head and body by a nun at an orphanage.

Evidence was being given to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, which began the second phase of its hearings in Edinburgh yesterday.

It is hearing evidence about institutions run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

The Greenock man, who was referred to under the pseudonym ‘David’, said beatings were routine at Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanark.

He was sexually abused by a nun and another member of staff, and beaten for bed-wetting and not eating his food.

David entered the orphanage in 1959 when he was aged around two, along with three brothers and a sister.

On one occasion, when he was aged around six, his hand was burned accidentally by his friend who was playing with a match.

David said: “The Sister came around the corner and said ‘what’s wrong?’ and I said ‘he burned my hand’. She just grabbed him and started hitting him and punching him.

“He was on the floor, and she was kicking him on his body and his head.

“I said ‘please sister, please don’t hurt him’.

“She stopped when I lay on top of him.”

David said he next saw the boy in the sick room, and the inquiry heard the boy was in hospital for around 10 days before he died.

An investigation earlier this year found that at least 400 children from Smyllum Park are thought to be buried in an unmarked grave at the town’s St Mary’s Cemetery.

The orphanage was home to more than 10,000 children between opening in 1864 and closing in 1981.

David also told how he was sexually abused by a nun and a lay female member of staff.

He told how children who wet the bed were made to stand with the wet sheets around their neck in the morning, and were also hit for bed-wetting.

In August 1965, when he was aged around seven, David said he was moved to St Vincent in Newcastle, which was run by the same order of Sisters, and told how he encountered abuse there, too.

Colin MacAulay QC, counsel to the inquiry, said: “In your statement you go on to say it was another place run by psychopaths.”

The Greenock man told how a Sister pinned him up against a washroom wall with a bread knife to his throat, threatening to kill him.

David said: “I genuinely thought I was going to die then. I was screaming.”

More than 60 residential institutions, including several top private schools, are being investigated by the inquiry, chaired by Lady Smith.