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Plea by cops in Quarriers child abuse probe

By Marion Scott, Scottish Sunday Mail, 02/05/2004

DETECTIVES leading one of Scotland's biggest child-abuse inquiries believe more victims have still to be traced.

They have urged other people victimised at a care village run by the Quarriers charity to come forward.

Former houseparent Sandy Wilson, 61, last week became the fourth person linked to the Renfrewshire homes to be jailed over offences dating back to the 1960s.

Wilson was caged for seven and a half years for sexually abusing eight young victims, including a 10-year-old girl with learning difficulties.

The torture endured by the child and others included rapes, depraved acts and beatings.

The judge warned that Wilson, who had continued to live in Quarriers village, Bridge of Weir, was still considered a risk to children.

Last week, we revealed Quarriers bosses were selling off the old church and belltower where housemaster John Porteous nicknamed "The Beast in the Belltower" abused kids.

They hope to pick up £2million for the building, which will be converted for £500,000 flats.

Yesterday, Detective Superintendent Alex McAllister, who is in charge of the probe, said: "The investigation has been harrowing.

"But we are determined to get justice for victims and urge anyone who has been abused to come forward and speak to us."

"We've faced difficulties tracing witnesses and records.

"We've been working closely with the procurator fiscal in Greenock and the Crown Office, and are heartened that there have been a number of long jail sentences.

"Our officers are still investigating allegations and a number of new cases will be coming to court." Porteous, 71, who is Wilson's brother-in-law, is serving eight years for abusing kids at the home. "Uncle" Joe Nicholson, 74, was jailed for two years in 2001 for abusing a 13-year-old girl at Quarriers.

Samuel McBrearty, 72, got 12 years in 2001 for repeatedly raping two girls.

Houseparent Mary Drummond, 73, got three years' probation for cruelty.

Another seven people who worked or lived at the home are facing charges later this year.

Mr McAllister said: "Any victims who come forward will be treated with sympathy, respect and support.

"Most will have spent years bottling it all up but are still deeply affected by what happened in their childhood.

"It takes courage for an adult to disclose what happened, sometimes decades before.

"We need to be patient while maintaining a professional stance, so we can properly investigate what is a very serious crime.

"Wherever possible, our officers will endeavour to progress with criminal proceedings. Former bosses at the home have continually claimed that they were unaware of any abuse.

Lawyer Cameron Fyfe sparked the Quarriers investigation four years ago after a female client gave him a statement about the horrific abuse she had suffered.

Police officers travelled to every corner of the country, speaking to hundreds of potential witnesses, and interviewed former Quarriers residents from as far away as Canada and the US.

They are also following inquiries into Overbridge House in Dumbreck, Glasgow.

Anyone with any information should call Strathclyde Police Quarriers Crime Desk on 01475 492 514.

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