Nun who abused children at Lanark orphanage has sentence cut

PRESSTEAM Eileen Igoe and Sarah McDermottPRESSTEAM

Sarah McDermott (right) had her sentence cut two months after co-accused, Eileen Igoe (left) had hers reduced

A nun jailed for abusing vulnerable youngsters at an orphanage has had her prison term cut following an appeal.

Sister Sarah McDermott was given a three-year sentence for mistreating children at Smyllum Park between 1969 and 1981 following a six-week trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court in January.

Her co-accused, Sister Eileen Igoe, 79, and carer Margaret Hughes, 77, succeeded in their bid to have their sentences cut in May due to “insufficient” weight being given to their age.

Judges at the Court of Appeal agreed to cut McDermott’s sentence to seven months for the same reasons.

Lady Dorrian, Lord Mattews and Lord Docherty argued that the trio “present no future risk to the public,” describing the conviction as “punitive”.

Smyllum Park, in Lanark, has been at the centre of allegations of historical abuse.

During sentencing at Airdrie Sheriff Court, Sheriff Scott Pattison said there was no alternative to prison for the three women.

The sheriff said the “lasting harm” and “serious nature” of the offences meant only custodial sentences were appropriate.

‘Filthy habits’

The trial heard from one witness, who said she was beaten by McDermott, having witnessed her brother being sexually abused in a toilet cubicle.

McDermott, from London, slapped the girl and told her she was bringing “filthy home habits into a good Catholic place”.

Volunteer worker Brian Dailey was later jailed for 15 years for abusing children.

On another occasion, McDermott struck another girl with rosary beads and hit her on the head and body.

Meanwhile, Igoe, from Edinburgh, force fed children and made one eat their own vomit as well as striking one boy on the head and body.

Hughes, from Lanark, seized one boy by the hair before striking him with her arm. She also forced a girl into a freezing bath and held her head under water.

Smyllum Park

Smyllum Park closed in the 1980s

Lady Dorrian said that the circumstances surrounding McDermott’s conviction were similar to her co-accused.

She said: “She was of good character and there was a lack of previous offending.

“We shall quash the sentence of three years and impose a sentence of seven months.”

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