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List D School Torturer Has Jail Term Cut

Daily Record (Scotland), May 9 2008 By Lynn Davison

A SCHOOL welfare officer who tortured children with electric shocks had his jail sentence cut to just a year yesterday.

Michael Murphy, 74, was finally behind bars last night but was set to serve half his original sentence.

In 2003, Murphy, known as Brother Benedict, was found guilty of 10 assaults on nine different boys at a List D school.

He force fed them vomit in the school dinner hall, whipped them with knotted boot laces and "tortured" them with an electric shock device.

Most of his victims were 10 to12 years old.

Murphy was welfare officer at St Ninian's School in Gartmore, Stirlingshire when the offences took place 40 years ago.

He was a member of the De La Salle teaching order, though not a monk.

A string of appeals kept him out of prison until yesterday.

Judges ruled last October that his convictions should stand but Murphy remained free until he returned to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh yesterday.

Ronald Clancy QC, defending, argued the two year sentence was too severe.

He asked Lord Johnston, sitting with Lord Osborne, to take into account the time the matter had been hanging over Murphy's head.

He also said Irish-born Murphy had been an inexperienced member of staff trying to control troublesome boys at a time when corporal punishment was common.

Lord Johnston said the number and nature of the assaults - not least the electric shocks - made prison inevitable.

But the judges cut his sentence to one year.

Last night, the victims' lawyer Cameron Fyfe said: "They felt vindicated when this man was convicted.

"So I think they will feel vindicated yet again and delighted he is behind bars."

He added: "They will be disappointed the sentence has been reduced.

"But the main concern for them was that he was convicted which confirmed the allegations."