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Care worker is spared jail over child cruelty

By John Innes, the Scotsman 02/10/03

A CARE worker who locked up young girls in a cupboard was branded a witch as she left court yesterday.

Mary Drummond, 74, had to be ushered from Greenock Sheriff Court by police as her victims hurled abuse.

Drummond, a house parent at Quarrier's Home, Bridge of Weir, told terrified youngsters they were the children of the devil and that she had been sent by God.

The pensioner, of Hillington, Glasgow, was sentenced to three years' probation after admitting five charges of child cruelty in the 1950s and 1960s.

One victim, speaking outside court, said: "I'm bitterly disappointed. I wanted her to be locked up and to find out what it's like to be treated like a prisoner the way she treated us. We've never had an apology or an explanation for what she did.

"I still have nightmares about what she did to us. She used to lock us in a cupboard under the stairs and tell us the Baw Baw would get us. I was only a young girl and remember thinking if I don't open my eyes I won't see it and it won't see me."

Sheriff John Herald told Drummond: "By any stretch of the imagination the circumstances of these offences are nasty and have had varying effects on the victims.

"However, I have to take into account that they took place 40 or 50 years ago and that you are no longer a danger to the public."

The sheriff, who could have jailed Drummond for two years, continued: "Clearly you must be punished and I believe you should be supervised for a considerable time."

Drummond originally pleaded guilty in February 2002, then incensed her victims by insisting she had made a mistake.

She returned to court the following month claiming she had been unable to read the charges against her because she had recently undergone an operation for cataracts.

The case was repeatedly continued before law lords in Edinburgh ruled that she could not withdraw her pleas.

At the original hearing, the deputy procurator-fiscal, Cath White, told the court how Drummond forced a child to swallow food and vomit by holding her nose and mouth, served up meals over and over until they were eaten and failed to treat a child with blood pouring from a head wound.

Ms White said: "The accused had a bogeyman figure which was a mop with a grass skirt. She used to lock the girls in cupboards and outhouse sheds, then ask if the Baw Baw had been."

 
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