THE IPSWICH CONNECTION. A STORY OF TWO DOCTORS.

The victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim. They have become a threat. – James Baldwin

This is a work in progress. It’s about two doctors who were prime suspects in an infamous Ipswich murder case in the 1960s. They escaped justice for their crimes and both are now dead. It’s only indirectly relevant to most of the accounts on this blog, so please ignore this post if your interest is primarily in remembering school days at St Joseph’s College, Ipswich. Or if you don’t want to read an incomplete story, particularly one involving murder. As it’s a work in progress, inevitably there are some conjectures in my account that may well be wrong. In fact, I would be happy if they were proved wrong and there was an innocent or less disturbing explanation of the facts.

I’ve been wanting to write about one aspect – involving R & W Paul of Ipswich – for years, long before I even knew about the doctors and their Ipswich connection, but I held off because I was hoping to find the missing pieces of the jigsaw first. They may or may not eventually fall into place.

At this time, my recollections are not of sufficient clarity and detail to take further. After all, they concerned events that took place a lifetime ago back in the 1960s. Nonetheless, they are persistent.

In the end, I decided I had no choice but to write about them. Firstly, as a personal catharsis, so I can have closure. Secondly, because it is possible that my memories may cross-reference with others and therefore be of value. It has happened before on this site. The case of Brother James, for example. One courageous testimony by a survivor led to three other Old Boys of St Josephs, myself including, making similar statements about the crimes of Brother James.

So here goes.

The two doctors in question were Dr Martin Reddington and Dr John Byles.  The full story of their awful crimes, including at least two murders of children, can be found here: https://theneedleblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/

I will just highlight a few details in the Needleblog account. Firstly, the comments at the bottom of that post reveal even more about the Doctors and none of it is good. Secondly, it’s remarkable how often they were charged with child abuse crimes, found innocent or escaped justice by jumping bail and fleeing the country. They seem to have gone to Canada, South Africa and Australia and returned to the UK again and again without being apprehended. It’s reasonable to conjecture they had some useful connections to achieve this.

Although they were prime suspects in one murder, when they fled to Australia it was felt there was insufficient evidence to extradite them to the UK.

But Byles was going to be extradited for being the ringleader of the Holy Trinity paedophile ring described in the Needleblog account. He then skipped bail in Australia and committed suicide in 1975, leaving three suicide notes. The notes have not been made public. Reddington was arrested in Australia in 1977 for indecently assaulting a child. He regularly visited the UK without being apprehended by the police, and died in Surrey in 1995.

Now we come to the Ipswich connection. There’s a link on the Needleblog and the same link is here: Tattingstone suitcase murder. It describes the crime that took place in January 1967. Tattingstone is a village just outside Ipswich.

‘Detectives pinpointed the pair as suspects at an early stage. When the case was re-opened in 1977 the case became even stronger.’ Ipswich Star

The Doctors were regarded as prime suspects because in 1977, one of the suitcases used to dispose of the body was thought to have belonged to one of them. And Reddington, who was born in Colchester, had a surgery close to where the victim was last seen in Muswell Hill. Byles also lived in Muswell Hill. The murder victim, Bernard Oliver – a vulnerable 17-year-old – had been expertly dismembered by a doctor or someone with similar medical knowledge and skill. It was believed to have taken place somewhere close to where the two suitcases containing his remains were found.

Somewhere like Ipswich.

Then, astonishingly, in 2012, there was a new development: https://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/ipswich-new-lead-in-45-year-riddle-of-body-in-2723320. A witness, Mr Thurston, came forward to say that between 1am and 2am in early January 1967 he had seen a man wearing surgeon’s gloves standing inside the entrance to R & W Paul’s offices in Salthouse Street, Ipswich. At his feet were two suitcases. The witness and his friend were terrified by his scary appearance and escaped on his scooter.

It’s worth quoting a key section from the article:

Mr Thurston, now of St Austell, Cornwall, said he first attempted to speak to police ten years after the murder, but felt he was not being taken seriously and did not make a statement.

However, after reading Tony Oliver’s story while back in Ipswich for Christmas, he went in to the town’s police station to report what he had seen.

Lisa Miller, a spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary, said: “We can confirm an appointment has been made to see Mr Thurston and the information will be followed up.”

I’ve found no further article, but obviously the police would have looked closely at the R & W Paul connection. Whatever conclusion they reached, they presumably decided it was of no significance and/or not appropriate to make any of it public. And the case is closed, after all.

I came across the article by accident a year or so ago and was shocked by it for two reasons.  Firstly, because after the Knights of St Columba stopped paying my school fees, I had to leave St Joseph’s College at the age of fifteen, and then worked for R & W Paul as an errand boy between 1964-1965: less than two years before the Tattingstone murder took place.

As an aside: the criminal role of the Ipswich Knights of St Columba in this period, and how they covered up a paedophile ring at St Joseph’s College, has been described by another survivor. See The Shocking Truth about St Joseph’s. It’s confirmed by other survivors’ accounts. A post, incidentally, that neither the current Knights, the De La Salle Brothers, the Catholic diocese, Catholic Safeguarding, or St Joseph’s (now safely ‘under new management’) have chosen to respond to.

I knew R & W Paul’s offices in Salthouse Street very well. I worked out of the little mail sorting-house that was reached across a courtyard at the back of those offices. Riding my trade bike, I cycled in and out of the entrance that the witness described ever day for a long, boring year. So I know Mr Thurston’s account is true, because the detail is so accurate. And why would anyone make up such a bizarre story?

There was a second reason I was shocked.

My survival technique as a vulnerable kid was to block out most negative memories of my Catholic abusers. It worked incredibly well at the time, but, as is often typical for survivors, memories come back in mid-life. So I’ve spent a fair amount of time since making sense of them and piecing them together. And then taking appropriate action against abusers – with some success, I’m pleased to say.

Because, in my opinion, the most healing and satisfying therapy for survivors is for the hunted to become the hunter.

So for the last six years at least I’ve had recurring negative memories of strange ‘parties’ at R & W Paul at which I was present, aged 14-16. At first this seemed most unlikely to me, especially as I would have still been at school. And I believed that I escaped the Knights when I left school at 15, so that was the end of it. But the Knights didn’t see it that way. Just because they no longer were paying my fees did not mean they had lost interest in me. For them, it was all about power and overcoming resistance. And I resisted endlessly, I’m also pleased to say.

A survivor giving evidence at IICSA about his Catholic school explains it rather well. ‘Boys like me who resisted could look forward to having their educations derailed and wrecked… It was if these men were following an instruction manual they’d learnt by rote: grooming, accusation, persecution.’

I have a memory that one particular Knight got me the job at R & W Paul using his ‘connections’. My recollection was that he was an agricultural engineer, and he certainly dressed the part with his expensive clothes. In fact, I’ve since discovered from his death certificate that he worked for an agricultural engineers, Ransoms, Sims and Jefferies, as a paint shop foreman. Given his arrogant character, it’s likely that he told me he was an engineer to impress me, or it could be that my memory wasn’t precise in this regard.

But why I would need ‘connections’ to get such a truly crap job beats me. I had left school at 15 with no ‘O’ Levels, but this was an era of full employment and there were far better jobs available as I discovered later for myself. More likely, I was steered into the job for a reason.

Thus I remember the troubled kid who had the R & W Paul errand boy job before me. He had a posh accent, and had gone to a private grammar school, just like me. But there was some kind of problem in his life that he didn’t reveal to me during the week we spent together as he introduced me to the work. And he didn’t even live in Ipswich, like me. We were both surely over-qualified as errand boys. My feeling is that this lowly position was a placeholder for rebellious and ‘troublemaking’ teenagers after their education had been ‘derailed’. Here they could still be kept an eye on and used when required.

But that’s all speculation, of course, and finding difficult teenagers such work seems like a huge and pointless waste of time and energy to me – but then I don’t think like criminals who see vulnerable children as property.

So let’s look at the hard facts instead. I’d always thought the idea of parties at R & W Paul, Salthouse Street, was absolutely nuts. It’s an office block, after all. It’s the most unsuitable place for a conventional party, never mind deviant parties. Why not have their party using Paul’s Social Club near St Joseph’s? So I dismissed the idea even though, year in and year out, I’d get constant subconscious reminders about going to ‘weird parties at Pauls’.

Similarly, when I read the 2012 newspaper account, I thought once again that it was also nuts. Carrying out an operation to dismember a corpse in the Salthouse Street offices seems so unlikely. No one in their right mind would consider it.

It seems to be the weakness in the 2012 account. It’s simply not feasible for such a crime to be committed on the office premises. Once again, I dismissed it from my mind. Or tried to.

Finally, I studied the site on Google maps a week ago and realised it’s not impossible after all.

The impressive office building is still there – there’s possibly a preservation order on it – but there are substantial buildings directly behind it. They now belong to Hypercars and the company name and building style indicates they are of recent origin. They could have replaced earlier similar buildings.

The R & W Paul offices follow the curve of Salthouse Street before ending a short distance from Fore Street. In the 1960s, there would have been a substantial space behind the visible office frontage. It may have just been a wide expanse of courtyard or – more likely – it also contained further buildings, extensions or outhouses not visible from the street. Ordnance survey maps of the period represent it all as a simplistic solid block. All I can remember as an errand boy is taking letters from a little mailroom outbuilding, in which three of us worked, down through the open air courtyard, and into the main offices.

So yes, it is possible a building projecting into or even partly filling the courtyard could have been used for illicit purposes. It’s also possible I blocked the memory of it out for that very reason.

Suffolk had a bad reputation at this time. The Krays – who abused children –had strong connections with the county. Other crimes against children have been noted and collated here: https://angirfana.blogspot.com/2015/04/suffolk-centre-of-child-prostitution.html. And the Ipswich red light district around London Road was notorious back in the 60s, long before the serial murders in 2006.

I have a strong sense – and it’s more than a feeling – that I have come across one or both of these doctors in the criminal circles that surrounded me.

Byles had first stood trial for offences against children back in 1963, so he was active at that time. Catholic and non-secular groups overlapped and shared a common perverted interest in children, something that is rarely acknowledged or discussed today. So we sometimes have the false impression that there was something ‘separate’ or ‘limited’ about Catholic abusers. In reality, Catholic and non-Catholic, teachers, priests, vicars, laity and De La Salle brothers like Solomon, James and Kevin, were all exactly the same low life filth and many undoubtedly ‘socialised’ with each other and shared victims. Sexual abuse of children inevitably leads perpetrators into related criminal activities. In particular, drug abuse, trafficking and worse. 

Thus, these two doctors were members of the Holy Trinity Church of England paedophile ring, using the church premises to take pornographic photos which they sold commercially, and commit sexual assaults and carry out abusive rituals, according to evidence at the trial. Their fellow criminal, Raymond Varley, was wanted for other crimes connected with the even more notorious Dr Freddy Peats. Peats was also a medical doctor and a social worker with the Catholic Church, and part of an international child abuse and trafficking ring. He was eventually caught, and died in a Goa prison.

This kind of overlap between Catholic, Church of England and non-secular criminals may well be the reason I keep being prompted to think back to R & W Pauls and what may have happened there.

That said, I’d hate to conflate memories of these doctors with Ipswich abusers. I’d be so happy if I discovered I had in fact conflated the two. If it is true, I’m lucky to be alive.

There is undoubtedly a connection. My memory progressively provides me with further details, so I’m optimistic I will find more pieces of the puzzle in due course.

This is more than an account of just two rotten apples. It’s a whole rotten orchard.

BOUNDARY BREAKING

As you’ll see from the page below Durham University are keen to talk to survivors and other informed people about abuse in the Catholic Church and its various organizations.



There’s also a link with further information.



I talked to the organizers this week and recounted some of my experiences as an Old Boy of St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and also the central role of the Catholic laity, specifically the Knights of St Columba.



I found it a valuable and cathartic experience. Valuable firstly because it was useful to interact and explain some of my childhood history to researchers connected to but independent of the Church. But secondly because it means this website has been noticed and is finally being taken seriously. It needs to be. It’s a unique platform and resource with a considerable body of important evidence about abuse and abusers.



So thank you to everyone who has contributed their recollections of Catholic abuse so far, some of which must have been quite tough to relate.



The project is funded by a charitable foundation with further contributions from other Catholic institutional funders, but as the organizers made clear to me, the University is a public secular institution, and the Centre for Catholic Studies which is behind the research is part of the University and independent of the Church.

All research is conducted in line with the University’s expectations of integrity and impartiality and is subject to ethical review; confidentiality and anonymity is maintained.  

If you are interested, please contact Marcus Pound on m.j.pound@durham.ac.uk or Pat Jones at patricia.jones@durham.ac.uk.  

Please see the University’s web page for more information: https://www.durham.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-centres/catholic-studies/research/boundary-breaking-/ 

Durham University’s Boundary Breaking Project is looking for research participants.

Boundary Breaking: Ecclesial-cultural Implications of the Sex Abuse Crisis within the Catholic Church in England and Wales

Boundary Breaking is a project of the Centre for Catholic Studies (CCS) within the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University. It is a three-year research project, working in collaboration with survivors and organisations in the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Our task is to explore the role of Catholic culture and theology in contributing to the creation of an environment in which abuse by clergy and brothers, and its subsequent denial and mishandling, was and is possible. The project is led by Dr Marcus Pound as Principal Investigator, working with Dr Catherine Sexton, Dr Pat Jones and Prof. Paul D. Murray.

Our aim is to examine the possible relationship between the abuse crisis and weaknesses or distortions in the culture, organizational realities, and ecclesial self-understanding of Catholicism in England and Wales. We hope to produce theologically informed reflections and recommendations on aspects of safeguarding and culture within the Catholic Church, to help the whole Church to respond proactively to the sexual abuse crisis. We will host an international conference (planned for January 2023) to present our research findings and generate discussion and action.

We are engaging with people from across the Catholic community and beyond: survivors, secondary victims including affected families, and individual lay members; parish groups (particularly in parishes where abuse has occurred) and key voices in both secular and Catholic safeguarding agencies; clergy and members of religious orders. We know that those who have been sexually abused experience devastating and lifelong effects, with clerical sexual abuse having a particular impact. The voices of victim-survivors, along with secondary victims, are potentially prophetic for the Church, and are essential to our study. Their testimonies directly inform the research.

If you are a victim or survivor of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy or a religious brother (member of a religious order) then we would like to invite you to participate in our research. We can reassure you that everything you say is regarded as confidential. We pay careful attention to ethical issues, and work within Durham University’s ethics frameworks which ensure that strict confidentiality and anonymity protocols are in place in all aspects of our work.

We are working within the limitations imposed by COVID-19, which means currently working online, through Zoom and other digital platforms.

If you are interested, please contact Marcus Pound on m.j.pound@durham.ac.uk or Pat Jones at patricia.jones@durham.ac.uk.

Please see the University’s web page for more information: https://www.durham.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-centres/catholic-studies/research/boundary-breaking-/

ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE IPSWICH SUMMARY. MAY 26 2021

There are now so many testimonials, threads and comments on this site about De La Salle Brothers in Ipswich, Beulah Hill and elsewhere it could be confusing for newcomers and for INVESTIGATORS to make sense of it. So I’ve done a quick SUMMARY which I can add to and improve as time goes on.  The testimonials can all be found on this site.

I believe this Summary makes a strong case for the De La Salle (DLS) Order to be investigated, not only for the historic harm it’s done, but also because it is still in charge of many schools today. The transgenerational nature of some of these crimes means they are relevant today and children could still be at risk. Plus there’s the endless shocking cases against DLS schools elsewhere in Britain and Ireland.  

Old Boys feel free to add anyone I’ve missed or add to this List.

MR TONY HARDY. Lay teacher St J’s Ipswich. Era 1986 – 1990. Sexual and physical violence.  One testimony. To quote from it: ‘Took a cat-o-nine tails out of his drawer. He lashed me about 10 – 12 times with it till I was bleeding.’ This crime was covered up by St J’s, Ipswich with no reporting to the police.

JO HOMAN. De La Salle Brother, Ipswich, who then left DLS to establish BOYS’ TOWN in India. Maintaining links with DLS.  While still a DLS Brother at Oak Hill (St J’s prep school) he committed a shocking sexual assault on a child. Full testimony. There are other testimonies of his physical violence.  Possible connection with Brother Solomon who, from my researches, probably visited Boys Town as a sex tourist. Homan successfully sued media who made extensive allegations about his abuse and exploitation of children at Boys Town. Reported in Times, Mail and elsewhere. These media accounts have now been removed from the web. Glowing obituary by St J’s Old Boy MP and author Chris Mullin in Guardian does not refer to Homan’s crimes at St J’s or to his alleged crimes at Boys Town.

Boys Town charity is now under new management, new systems, new safety protocols, and a likely new name.

BROTHER JAMES RYAN. 1950s to 1980s approx. Endless testimonies of pathological violence. Strongly indicating this man was a dangerous psychopath. Four testimonies of sexual abuse. Teacher at St J’s Ipswich and later at Beulah Hill. Connected to St J’s DLS paedophile ring -see Knights of St Columba, survivor’s testimony. And author’s testimony.

MR KEARNEY. Lay teacher. Irish, spent time in South Africa. At St J’s Ipswich, 1950s – 1980s. Several testimonies of sadistic physical abuse. One describes how he punched a boy in face and was forced to apologise. Also described as a racist, burning a black or mixed race pupil, a claim disputed by a (white) Old Boy.  Work still in progress by the author. Further allegations against Kearney likely to follow.

This man is commemorated with a ‘Mike Kearney Memorial Chemistry Prize’ by the current St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, proving they have not cut links with their school’s criminal past.

BROTHER KEVIN 1960s onwards. Several testimonies of physical abuse. More testimonies of sexual abuse. At Oakhill (St J’s prep school). St J’s Ipswich. St Peter’s Bournemouth.  At least one Old Boy took police action against him. Kevin initially admitted, then denied charges.  Other Old Boys were considering police action when we heard that he had been driven out of his village by local youths for abusing children. He went into an Ipswich home, suffering from dementia, and may now be dead. The Oakhill MATRON wrote to this site to strongly defend him. She herself has been accused of questionable behaviour by an Old Boy.

KNIGHTS OF ST COLUMBA. IPSWICH PROVINCE. The Knights appear to have funded the establishment of St J’s Ipswich in the 1940s and maintained a close connection with the school ever since. The main allegation against them is in ‘The Shocking Truth about St Joseph’s.’ There is more information on this case available from the author. In summary, they covered up a violent physical and sexual assault by Brother James and provided London private hospital care. They paid for the boys’ school fees as compensation and for his silence.  (They paid for my school fees and my brother’s for reasons I am still investigating.) The testimony indicates their ‘troubleshooting’ is not limited to Ipswich and dealing with such crimes has happened on more than one previous occasion. Possibly nationwide. The author has been informed that another province – today – has oversight on the lives of parishioners without proper safety protocols. I also have evidence that any negative report about them – e.g. a Colchester Knight sexual abuser given a long prison sentence – is either not reported or has been removed from the web.  The Knights were provably connected with Jimmy Savile and that has not been investigated.

There is no evidence when the Knights stopped their connection with St J’s Ipswich. Theoretically they may still be involved today – e.g. governors, ‘troubleshooters’ etc.

BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES. Teacher at St J’s Ipswich in 1980s.  He is currently HEAD of the DLS Order in UK and Ireland. Three testimonies of physical abuse against children.

One testimony where Hughes attacks a boy with a cricket bowler’s ‘run up’ is identical to Brother James’s attack on a boy witnessed and testified by the author.

Such extreme violence is often associated with other forms of abuse. Therefore this man should not be head of the DLS and should be removed as a matter of urgency.

In view of its importance, I’ll quote one of the survivor’s account here. He is referring to BROTHER LAURENCE HUGHES

James Hammett

Does anybody remember the night of my beating by the C**t?

1980 2nd year boarder.

There were double doors into the TV room, he set up a chair on one side of the doorway, told me to bend over it & walked off holding a plimsole, he got to the back of his office and began his run. As he passed me he hit me with all his might and put his hands in front of him to cushion himself against the wall of the TV room – rather like those indoor 60m runners after they’ve crossed the line.

He did this to me 6 times. My colleagues, in bed, way down the corridor heard it all.

I could not sleep on my back for a week.

Now I feel sick and am shaking. I’m a 50 year old man… I was 13 when he did this – he was 32.

BROTHER LEO. Headmaster St J’s Ipswich. 1960s. Three testimonies sexual abuse. Known as a ‘nocturnal groper’.

PAEDOPHILE RING @ ST JOSEPH’S, IPSWICH.  The evidence for this is primarily the Survivor’s post: ‘The Shocking Truth about St Joseph’s’. On this blog. 1960s era. There are private follow ups to this post available to investigators from the author. This is clear evidence of ORGANISED CRIME and CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY.  A physical and sexual assault by BROTHER JAMES. Sexual abuse by the HEADMASTER. Cover up by THE KNIGHTS OF ST COLUMBA and FATHER JOLLY, School Chaplain. There are two seperate testimonies of sexual abuse by Father Jolly. 

Extensive academic research  proves such school paedophile rings are TRANS-GENERATIONAL and therefore this cannot be ignored as ‘historic’. The era when it stopped at St J’s  must be identified for safety reasons.  See my post the Dark Network and https://eprints.qut.edu.au/132822/2/Sally_Muytjens_Thesis.pdf

ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE IPSWICH TODAY. The school has made it clear that it has no connection with the criminal DLS era. Yet it continues to ‘have its cake and eat it’ with prizes and  proud references to its past and proclaiming on an external sign it is ‘IN THE LA SALLIAN TRADITION.’  Harvey Weinstein made some successful films and the DLS were successful teachers , so to survivors, like myself, that is like proudly saying ‘IN THE HARVEY WEINSTEIN TRADITION’.

That sign should be removed and all connections with the school’s criminal past confirmed as severed. Today’s school doubtless has records from the criminal era which ended late 1980s, possibly early 1990s, that should be available to investigators.

BROTHER SOLOMON aka MIKE MERCADO aka SWINGING MONK.   1950s – 1980s. Endless testimonies of extreme physical and sexual abuse at Ipswich and St J’s Beulah Hill.  Started off as Brother Solomon in Ipswich.  After abuse charges transferred to Beulah Hill.  Had to leave after more abuse charges. Had short pop career in 1960s. May have been a ‘sex tourist’ to Joe Homan’s Boys Town in India. Returned to St J’s Ipswich as Mike Mercado lay teacher. More abuse followed. Left under questionable circumstances 1980s.His resignation letter threatens to ‘spill the beans’ and tell all about the DLS. He appears to have been paid off by St J’s College, Ipswich.

DE LA SALLE COVER-UPS

I think all of us are aware that there were cover-ups amongst the De La Salle Brothers. I remember how Brother Solomon suddenly – according to the playground grapevine at the time – went to Jersey, then onto Beulah Hill which he was thrown out from, subsequently possibly spending some time at Homan’s Boy Town (a disturbing location for this ‘Jimmy Savile of the De La Salle Order’) before returning to St Joseph’s as lay teacher Mike Mercado and then being thrown out again for sexual abuse.

I recall, as a boy, Brother James writing in the school magazine what a great asset Solomon was to the college and what a spiritual person he was. He clearly knew otherwise. It never rang true to me at the time.

Later, James himself got moved to Beulah Hill where his behavior was equally criminal. His obituary described him as a shy and timid man, not the violent rapist he really was. Once again, whoever wrote that obituary – almost certainly a DLS brother – must have known the truth and was lying through his teeth.

Similarly, when a startled Knight of St Columba (the Eminence Gris of St J’s) discovered the shocking evidence of violent abuse by James, he proclaimed ‘Oxford shall hear of this!’ I understand Oxford was and is the DLS centre of operations.

All these and many other references on this blog and elsewhere indicate a high level of collusion and cover-ups within the De La Salle Order. But it’s never been as clear cut and revealing a central control as the account below just in from Guy Lavender, an Old Boy of DLS school St Peter’s.

He refers to “an administrative organization” being responsible.

It could therefore be valuable in the days to come. Many thanks to Guy for this account and for allowing me to use his name.

                                       …………………………………

FROM GUY LAVENDER

Just read your latest post regarding the abuse at St J’s. It is a reminder to me and a stark jolt to put pen to paper and add my account. As you quite rightly quote “If you are able to speak up, but remain silent then we are implicitly condoning the wrongdoing of others” something along those lines.

As I mentioned before, I did not attend St Joseph’s school. I was a boarder at St Peter’s school, Bournemouth (1975-1982) This was also a Catholic School run by the De La Salle teaching order as you know. After reading all the blogs, accounts i draw striking similarities to what happened at St Peter’s during my time as a border there.

But there is more than that. Before I attended St. Peter’s, I had 2 older brothers who attended another school, St John’s college, Southsea, also run by the De La Salle order. They were borders from 1970 to 1977. Their accounts of going’s on and wrongful abuse of boys during that time is equally harrowing.

Now then. Because of my brothers accounts of the behaviour of certain individuals at St John’s (namely Br Cyril) my experiences at St Peter’s (at the hands of Brother Kevin literally) together with reading all the stories, posts and blogs on your website, I am in a unique position to add an interesting perspective on all this scandalous abuse. This is what I have pieced together.

Let’s start with Brother Kevin. After reading the accounts by borders at St Joseph’s there was quite obviously some woeful wrongdoings involving Brother Kevin during the mid to late 1960’s. Then he was suddenly moved overseas and conveniently out of the way to France for 1 to 2 years. Long enough for the scandal to blow away and all be forgotten about no doubt. After which he was again re-appointed in a position of ultimate trust over young boys as junior housemaster at St Peter’s School, Bournemouth at around 1969-1970. There he was given a free hand to recommence his sinister and evil operations ie the abuse of young boys under the pious illusion and disguise of a religious white dog collar. I, as a border at St Peter’s from September 1975, was witness to much of his immoral behaviour.

Then there was the case of Brother Cyril. The notorious, weird and known homosexual housemaster at St John’s college, Southsea. According to my brothers there were several incidents involving improper conduct involving young boys at the hands of Brother Cyril during his time as housemaster of junior division there at St John’s. This was approximately from 1972 up until his untimely and abrupt transfer to St Peter’s school at around 1978. Now then, I do recall remarking to him that I had 2 brothers who were, at the time, still boarders at St John’s college.  I strongly remember the frosty and uncomfortable response that I received on even mentioning this. With hindsight, it was probably because I had been privy to his previous behaviour at St John’s that he then wanted and thought he could bury.

So it seems like we have a clear pattern of similar events here in just two accounts. Whenever the bubble is about to burst and some unsavoury individual is about to be exposed and held account for his actions, then he is conveniently moved or re assigned somewhere else.

What is abundantly clear to me is that it was not just one individual who was responsible for moving these monsters around to avoid detection, but an administrative organisation. Someone somewhere knew exactly what kind of person Brother Kevin was/is and actively appointed him in a position of trust and authority over young boys, some as young as 6 or 7 years old. Even as 11 year old boys we were very aware of the pedophile nature of Brother Kevin. Indeed, the jokes and sniggering comments transcended through every corridor and classroom in the school. Yet not one teacher knew anything about his despicable tendencies?? Impossible. Of course they knew and were fully aware. Every single one of them. But this was the 1970’s and pedophilia behaviour and activities were a taboo subject. It simply did not exist. Sadly it did.

I hope that my account and perspective on events helps to explain things at the time. Ie coverups. I will later on send you my account at the hands of Brother Kevin. I’m working on it. I’m not shy. I will be in touch again soon

BROTHER SOLOMON AND HARRY ROBERTS

Another couple of old posts by St Joseph’s Beulah Hill Old Boys that I think are of interest because of the way their school magazine was, perhaps understandably, pulped.  Roberts – a ‘successful pupil’ – has now been released from prison:

Went to St Joe’s in the 50/60

My first p.t (yes p.t) teacher was George Smith who left the school to become manager of Crystal Palace F.C for 2 years.

I was expelled in 1964 for saying that Brother Solomon (stage name Sidney De Mecardo) was a homosexual paedophile (i did not use that word in 1964).

Famous old boys. Remember Harry Roberts who murdered 3 policemen in 1966. He was a successful pupil in the 1950’s and every copy of Beaulahland which contained his name was destroyed.Roberts is still alive at 70+ and still in prison. Solomon’s stage name was Mike Mercado.

Listen to THIS (http://www.ewhurst.com/mike/mike.mp3).

Harry Roberts as an old boy was sold to me during my first term after Brother Sean Sellars was telling 1.2 about famous ex pupils….

Went home and asked Dad who is Dicky Valentine, apparently he is our most famous old boy… Dad said forget him, its Harry Roberts…. miles more famous..

BROTHER SOLOMON: DARK NETWORKER

The real purpose of this post is the mechanics of a  Catholic Dark Network.

How they operate.

 And how this can sometimes mean a Catholic paedophile  ‘taking one for the team’. I believe  Brother Solomon had to ‘take one for the team’.

 I’ll come back to that a bit later. But first to set the scene:

In case the tag ‘Brother Solomon’ has drawn you to this site for the first time, let me explain that a Dark Network is an academic term for a paedophile ring. 

An academic study (see my past post ‘Dark Networks’) shows a primary example in Victoria, Oz. Muytjens, Sally (2019) An exploration of the existence of clergy child sexual abuse dark networks within the Victorian catholic church. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Muytjens identified 16 Catholic child sex abuse rings in Victoria, Oz.

This, for me at least, validates my own recollections that there was a similar paedophile  ring at St Joseph’s College Ipswich in the 1960s.

There was also a separate investigation by the Age newspaper which covers further criminal Catholic networks in Oz, some of which may overlap with the academic study. If you just want a quick read, here it is: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/revealed-how-paedophile-priests-in-victoria-worked-together-to-share-victims-20190916-p52rtz.html

The evidence for Brother Solomon being in a similar paedophile ring is more circumstantial than Brother James where  two testimonies specifically show the involvement of the Knights of St Columba  who covered up his crimes . This resulted in more of James’s perverted behaviour being inflicted on pupils in the 1970s when he should have been in jail.

To briefly reprise on the evidence about Brother Solomon.

I knew as a first former in 1960/1961 that Solomon was a paedophile. All the kids joked about it and talked about him being sent to a Brothers’ reformatory on Jersey where shipwrecked sailors would be at risk from them.  Brother James – a confirmed Dark Networker – wrote a glowing farewell to Solomon in the school magazine and I remember at the time thinking how it was simply untrue.  Then Solomon went to Beulah Hill where he committed numerous crimes, had a brief interval as a minor pop star, then probably went to do ‘missionary work’ at Homan’s Boys Town in India,  and came back to St Joseph’s Ipswich as lay teacher Mike Mercado in the mid-1980s. He was dismissed over further allegations of sexual abuse.

The endless shifting him from school to school is suggestive of a Dark Network of organized abusers. Then there’s his involvement with Joe Homan, a proven paedophile (I have the private testimony of one survivor from Oakhill which is heartbreaking to read). Homan may have won a libel case alleging abuse, but there is a great deal about him still left unanswered and strongly suggestive of a Dark Network, despite Old Boy Chris Mullin’s whitewash obituary on him in the Guardian.  

There’s more about Solomon which is potentially relevant.  His co-ownership of a fun pier at Weston Super Mare, for example. According to Mullin, he ended his days playing the piano on a pier. Maybe this was the one.

Before getting onto how Solomon ‘took one for the team’, here’s a reminder from Old Boys at Beulah Hill as to what this sick individual was like.

Bear in mind he’d just been thrown out of St J’s Ipswich because of some serious allegations which resulted in him disappearing literally overnight.  So then he’s allowed to carry on at Beulah Hill doing exactly the same!

(I have a private testimony from an Old Boy from Ipswich describing a sexual assault Solomon made on him and a number of other boarders.)

I was a pupil at St Joseph’s College, Beulah Hill, from 1955 to 1965 – I can confirm that it was an absolutely terrible experience – and in 1961, as if there weren’t enough very strange, totally weird, ‘Christian’ Brothers (all from the ‘De La Salle’ order) – they brought in Brother Solomon (they already had Brother Leo and Brother David, niether have been mentioned in these columns but I can honestly say, both horrendous, merciless, harshly-appalling people). Brother Solomon was allowed total freedom by the school and by the order as ‘Master of Discipline’ – everything that has been said here about this man is true, however it all only just touches on his evil brutality, his mental and sexual perversion; I would say he was at least twenty times worse than anyone has stated here – over a period of four years he became worse and worse and by 1964 he was out of control. Dispite what clearly must have been known by those in authority, he was allowed to continue with his sinful, vicious, atrocious, criminal, immoral, debauched, perverted, abhorrent, detestable, monstrous, foul, vile, discraceful ways for a further full year – it was absolutely scandalous. Finally, during the summer holidays of 1965 Brother Soloman was dismissed from St Joseph’s and at the same time expelled from the De La Salle order. Within a very short time he became known nationally as ‘The Swinging Monk’; he was in the Sunday papers and on Records, TV and Radio being described as pianist ‘Mike Mercado’. Today he would have been in court, subsequently locked up, after just a couple of days in any school; he got away with it for so long by intimidation and because in those days, if you dared to say anything against this “incredible” school (in your Catholic parents view) you were immediatly set-about by your father, as I was on several occasions – including once when I phoned my father (a complete bully) from the phone box at Crown Point and described an incident that had only just occurred in Bro’ Soloman’s locked and curtained office; “Stay right there, it’ll take me an hour to get to you!” shouted my father as he slammed down his phone – some time later, as he pulled up and dived out of his car I thought to myself (I was still in the phone box) this is it, at last, this will be the downfall of this terrible man, Soloman, but alas, my father ripped open the red glass-paned door and totally laid-into ME, beating me almost unconscious; I was lying on the ground as he turned for his car, shouting at me “get back into that school and don’t you ever tell such lies about people again, or I’ll beat you to death”; and then he sped off. I was helped into a nearby sweet shop by a GPO telegram boy who had seen the beating and so was very sympathetic but terrified for me of my father, saying you’d better get cleaned up and back into school in case he comes back…. I would say I was one of probably less than a dozen boys regularly (daily) picked on by Brother Soloman but those awfull times have, on and off, affected my whole life – as a young 13 and 14 year old boy I was completely traumatised on many occasions, and left with absolutely no support from home, and that has returned to haunt me at various different stages of my life….. . Now, more optimistically, can anyone provide me with any actual evidence to confirm Brother Soloman is now deceased (an entry in death records; his place of death/buriel etc); in this respect please refer to this website: http://www.salfordonline.com/waywewere2.php?func=viewdetails&vdetails=239&os= which shows he went back to his home town of Eccles in 1968; it also shows that others seek to know where he is now. With my sincerest thanks, in advance, for any assistance that can be provided.

(Solomon is, of course, dead now)

This next quote may be relevant for indicating the transgenerational nature of Dark Networks:

Re-visiting my copy of St.Joseph’s College 1855-1955 Book, Beulah Hill, by W.J.Battersby [Senior History Master].

This bit of information that may interest you:-

Appendix III [p.92]

Old Boys Who Became Brothers:

extracted from the list……

At College 1941-43:

Brother Patrick Solomon (Michael Mercado)

If you find transgenerational abuse unlikely, let me assure you that it’s a proven characteristic of Dark Networks that they like to recruit a new generation to corrupt.

(Thus I believe Brother James was a De La Salle schoolboy)

The Network tried it with me, recruiting me to be a priest, and I resisted. 

Here’s the transgenerational confirmation in the Oz academic study.

DN = Dark Network. Actors = abusers

The data chapter discusses clergy perpetrators who were placed in roles of recruiting boys into the priesthood. The importance of recruitment and mentoring to the DN is that the ability to be able to replace DN actors is crucial to DN resilience (Ayling 2009).

Back to Brother Solomon/Mercado.

I’ve been passed his letter of resignation when he was kicked out of St Joseph’s Ipswich as lay teacher Mike Mercado.

He sent this letter out to parents and it’s well written and cleverly worded to make him seem like an injured party. If we didn’t already know he was the Jimmy Saville of the De La Salle Brothers, we might even be convinced by it.

But what I found interesting was the  threats  he makes which he does not follow up on. So why not just keep your mouth shut?  This is not a stupid man. Is he really just ‘mouthing off’ because he’s angry at losing his job? In my opinion, he’s hinting and mentioning certain individuals deliberately to make a point.  There’s a code here which I can only partly decipher.

We already know Solomon is a clever and experienced paedophile. I’d say he weighed every one of his key sentences with care. With great care. Hence why he says he could write a book about it, which he mentions twice.

I’m only going to include relevant excerpts here:

‘Dear Friends,

A year ago I sent a Newsletter to all of the parents of my Boarders wishing the compliments of the season and giving a few hints and tips on the guidance of teenagers through their most difficult years…

It is not possible to explain in detail the events of the past six months. If I did so, I would have to write all of you a book!  …

My problems started with an allegation being made against me by one of my Boarders that I had touched him in an indecent manner on his bottom…I was very hurt and insulted when the Headmaster indicated that he accepted the word of the Pupil and did not give me the opportunity of giving my version of the matter. These hurtful and insulting things were said by those with the Order one would have expected to support rather than condemn.

At this juncture I should point out that I had been a Christian Brother for some thirteen years prior to 1966  AND I AM FULLY AWARE OF WHAT GOES ON WITHIN THE ORDER. (Pat’s caps)’

Mercado then quotes a supportive Brother Damian who writes to Mercado, ‘I hope you will forgive the Community their lack of support.’

Mercado then relates how the Governors – whom he does not name – accepted he was innocent, but sacked him for drunkenness instead which he also denies.  He goes on:

‘I also consider it was significant that the Chairman of the Governors Rev. Bro. Edwin, Mr Kearney  (Senior Lay-Master whom I have known since 1958) and Bro. Cuthman Francis the Clerk to the Governors were not present at the Governors meeting on the 16th September. ‘

He’s making a point here by saying it was significant.  Why was it significant?  There’s a code here which I can only speculate about.  Had they deliberately stayed away, knowing Mercado was going to be sacked?

Mercado continues that he was finally vindicated by the settlement. ‘I am not bitter but rather sad at the treatment I have received from certain Members of the De La Salle Order. 

‘I have every intention of writing my experiences with the Order in a book.  I would recommend the reading of “In God’s Name” by David Yallop which clearly indicates that even in the Vatican things are not always as Holy and as Perfect (Mercado’s capital letters) as one would expect.’

Mercado ends by wishing everyone a Happy New Year for 1986.

AMENDMENT HERE. My thanks to Rob for pointing out I had Edwin originally confused with Elwin. So I’ve removed that piece.

TEXT NOW CONTINUES AS BEFORE

I suggest Mercado’s reminding Kearney of their long association with each other for nearly thirty years. Whilst there could be other explanations why he should stress their connection, I know the explanation that I take away from this.

Mercado’s letter is definitely hinting and threatening that he could say a whole lot more and he’s letting certain individuals know this loud and clear. 

He never wrote that book.

If he had blown the whistle, his own crimes would have been further exposed and he must have known that. His Dark Network of fellow abusers could also make life difficult for him.  Or ‘bring you much pain’ – as one Survivor put it to me. And they would fail to support or rehabilitate him later.

So he had no choice. He shut up and took one for the team.

It could be that, in return, judging by this letter he was partly exonerated (his crime abruptly altered from unacceptable child sexual abuse to acceptable drunkenness) and financially compensated. 

To quote him: ‘An out of Court settlement has been agreed and I have also received a glowing reference from the Headmaster… I believe that the settlement and the reference does vindicate me.’

The whole thing stinks to high heaven. The Dark Network looks after its members.

This is of personal interest to me because  I need to understand just how these Dark Networkers function. Because when I was 15 and went to the police about the Catholic Dark Network  I’d had the misfortune to be ensnared by, the cops did actually interview one Catholic Knight who I focussed most of my fury and accusing attention on.

Although he talked his way out of it, I did later see the fear and the anger in his eyes that he just might be in  trouble and be thrown to the wolves by his fellow perverts. I was a ‘troublemaker’.  (And still am, of course) And I’d singled him out as the pervert I was going after. He subsequently was very careful how he behaved in my presence.

I can still feel that buzz I had as a 15 year old when I had the power and my abuser was the victim for a change. Even if it was short-lived.

Currently I’m still gathering information on this individual. I hope to name and shame him in due course as a useful catharsis.

But in broader terms, I think it’s valuable to understand the mechanics of how Catholic Dark Networks operated and may still operate if they are – by definition – transgenerational. 

Which means today’s Catholic children are still at risk from them.

We are deliberately – and endlessly –  conditioned by Catholic influenced or Catholic funded ‘damage limitation’ academics and authors to think it’s just one rogue priest, one rogue Cardinal who acts in a moment of madness, that we find it hard to deprogram that obsolete thinking.  That’s exactly what they want and why these books keep coming out which simply tread water and say nothing new. (See my ‘Sins of Omission’)

But the Dark Network study and the Age newspaper expose have changed that forever. They will lead to other  Catholic Dark Networks, historic or current, being investigated and exposed as other academics and media follow up on the Australian groundbreaking work.   

St Joseph’s College, Ipswich, and the connected Catholic laity in Ipswich would be a good place to start.

CHALLENGE TO ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE, BIRKFIELD, IPSWICH, SUFFOLK

Here’s a challenge from Old Boy Nosssh. You can read his full comment at the bottom of this post.

St. Joseph’s College, Birkfield, Ipswich, how about allowing an investigation into crimes committed there? 

So how about it St J’s.? I know you’re aware of this site.

Yes, I know you are a different regime. But you have the contacts with the DLS and the local Catholic Diocese.

They will listen to you. You know that the infamous Brother Solomon was the Jimmy Saville of St Js. That’s beyond any reasonable doubt, and that’s going to be picked up eventually by the media. It’s a strong story – his victims in double, possibly triple figures, his links to Homan’s Boys Town, his TV appearances, how he inspired a famous comic character, oh, yes – and how he owned a fun pier, too. I think it was at Weston Super Mare.

You still inherit, benefit from and recognise a past that’s good, yet you deny or ignore the bad. You still say ‘In the La Sallian Tradition’. That means something awful for many survivors. See below. You still have a prize named after a questionable teacher, Kearney, whose sado-masochism (bunsen burner pipes as lashes. Highly diluted sulphuric or hydrochloric acid as a drink) makes him entirely inappropriate to be upheld as a chemistry role model in these modern times. And I’m still investigating Kearney with the likelihood of revealing far more about him.

And doesn’t it concern you that the abuse cases on this site alone are now reaching record numbers? Are you still not going to say anything? At least a message of sympathy for survivors? Or won’t your insurers allow that? Surely such a human and Christian response would be more important than what an insurance company thinks? Or maybe it isn’t? So are you going to remain silent until you are fetched? E.g. When the media eventually takes an interest in these historic crimes – which ended somewhere in the 1980s, or perhaps even later, according to one source – and exposes your school’s dark past.

I think we survivors are owed at least a comment from you, even if you have to hedge it with legalese to cover yourselves against fear of litigation. There’s always a way – if you want to find it. Or if that’s too much to ask, why don’t you take down your obvious connections with a sad and  awful past that has harmed so many boys. Surely the fate of those past children who went to your school – and the price they had to pay surviving abuse – must mean something to you?

The longer you leave it, the darker it looks. Your school’s past isn’t going to go away. Acknowledging it is the right and proper way for everyone – including yourselves – to have closure. 

Here’s Nosssh’s full comment, in response to my post THE IMPORTANT OF FIGHTING BACK:

I am yet another survivor of St. Jo’s. The guy responsible for abusing and controlling me is still around and I know where he lives so almost every day I have to resist that crucifix-ramming urge! Years ago though I had to blurt the words out loud, long before I understood why, that I forgave him in order to get on with my life. Maybe it’s easier or better that the most of the actual details remain blanked out (little snippets are there; that blue flecked paint used on the toilet wall, having to decide outside the gym to shut down part of my brain to deal with what just happened and get back to class after the lunch hour siren had gone and appear normal to friends…). At last I understand exactly what happened because my sister reminded me of a few details about the guy I’d chosen to forget. Anyway, survival is all about management and choosing to be better than your abuser. It’s such a shame so many have suffered at the hands of DLS “brothers” and their pedo associates (lay-teachers). Closure is massively important to all of us who’ve walked those hard years so St. Joseph’s College, Birkfield, Ipswich, how about allowing an investigation into crimes committed there and do us all a favour. That word Tenacitate eh, what a bitch 😉

TO TELL THE TRUTH

BROTHER SOLOMON aka MIKE MERCADO. And MIKE KEARNEY

Below is 1967 film footage of Brother Solomon appearing on an American TV show ‘To Tell The Truth’ in the days when he was The Swinging Monk.

There have been numerous (double figures) accusations of horrible and serious abuse committed by this man. They have all been been noticeably ignored by the De La Salle order of Brothers and their proud successors ‘in the La Salian Tradition’.

As a day boy, I escaped Solomon’s abuse, but I personally know of others – in the DLS schools in Ipswich and Beulah Hill – who were not so fortunate. Their accounts of his abuse make for unpleasant reading

TRIGGER ALERT
If you were one of his victims, I suggest you pour yourself a stiff drink before you watch this video. Or even pass on it. Believe me, it is like entering a time machine. Even though he’s wearing a toupee, he’s instantly recognisable.

To Tell The Truth’. Hah! That’s the one thing the DLS brothers have never done. His fellow abuser Brother James wrote a truly glowing and lying tribute to Solomon in the school magazine – which I remember thinking (even at the time, as an eleven year old) was a complete and utter lie. This was after Solomon left mysteriously and literally overnight after complaints had been levelled against him. At the time, we boys firmly believed he went to some kind of DLS reformatory for sexual predators on Jersey, before subsequently going to Beulah Hill where he continued abusing boys. Then, some years later, he returned to St Joseph’s Ipswich as lay teacher and Housemaster Mike Mercado. St Joseph’s Ipswich would have known about his sordid past and predictably, he went on to abuse a new generation of boys before being thrown out again in 1985. Possibly heading off to Joe Homan’s Boys Town in India either before or after his return to Ipswich.

This has prompted me to re-read Mercado’s farewell letter to parents in 1985. It may be of possible interest to survivors of his crimes. He says he was ‘fully aware of what was going on with the Order’ (whatever that means) and talks darkly about intending to write an expose (which he never did, unfortunately). He says he was dismissed for ‘misconduct’ at a governor’s meeting, a charge he strongly denies..

And he laments and says it’s ‘significant’ that Kearney (‘senior lay-master whom I have known since 1958’) was not present at the meeting to defend him.Or subsequently.

That’s interesting to me personally, because it ties in with my strong recollections of Kearney as yet another abuser and also someone who never kept his promises and could not be relied upon. His ‘betrayal’ has left an annoyingly strong impression on me, so I’m not at all surprised that he did not support Mercado. That was not his style.

Today, Kearney has a school prize named after him – an example of the continuity between the current school and its dark past in the DLS days. I’m still filling in my own blanks about Kearney, who I know was very different to his public facade as a tough but fair chemistry teacher. There was a whole lot more to this guy. It’s time consuming, but it’s the only way I’m likely to get closure on him. Any recollections any old boys have, good, bad, or otherwise, about Kearney, do share. It could be helpful. Thank you.

As for Mercado, according to old boy Chris Mullin, ‘he ended his days playing the piano on a pier in a south coast resort, I believe.’

Was Ipswich another Ballarat?

The excellent comment shown at the end of this post from Radders (commenting on my post Charity begins at home?) that mentions John McDonnell and Joe Homan has stirred my memories of St Joseph’s college once again. St J’s was my secondary school run by the De La Salle Brothers (DLSB).

These memories were also stirred after Cardinal Pell of Ballarat, Australia, was recently found guilty of sexual assault. Ballarat is a city where the Christian Brothers also feature heavily in various allegations of abuse – they currently total an astonishing and appalling 139 allegations.

On the positive side, the post also reminded me about John McDonnell. I’m really impressed that McDonnell, the Labour Shadow Chancellor, went to my old school. Reading his Wikipedia entry on the subject I also noticed his reason for attending – and possibly leaving St J’s – was remarkably similar to my own.

Still on politics, I was also impressed that fellow old boy Chris Mullin wrote A Very British Coup, one of my all time favourite novels and TV series. I rated McDonnell and Mullin both highly long before I knew they even went to St J’s, although they were there roughly at the same time as me. However they were boarders and I was a day boy, so our paths were unlikely to have crossed.

However, the fact that Mullin is also a supporter of the notorious Homan is disappointing, to put it gently. Homan was found innocent of abuse charges against him at his Boys Town in India. But I’ve read an account about Homan by an old boy I was contemporary with and knew well. It describes a vicious and horrible assault by Homan when he was a DLSB at St J’s Oak Hill and I have every reason to believe it is true.

So it sits uncomfortably with Mullin’s protagonist Harry Perkins in A Very British Coup, who becomes that so rare individual — a True Labour prime minister. A politician we can trust and admire. In fact, I could imagine John McDonnell as just such a Harry Perkins prime minister, more so even than Jeremy Corbyn. I think he would be brilliant. If it ever happens, I pray he doesn’t share the same fate as Perkins. Certainly The Sun and The Daily Mail would set out to destroy him just as their fictional counterparts destroyed Perkins.

So I got thinking as to whether these two distinguished politicians were affected by St J’s as I was. After all, they were there in the same era as me – an era when physical and sexual abuse was rife at the school and everyone knew it was going on. Even us day boys. You couldn’t avoid it. It was everywhere. In fact I would say, based on my own observations, experiences, and the disturbing and heartfelt testimonies of various old boys on this site that Ipswich – and St J’s in particular – truly was another Ballarat. Except in Ipswich they sadly got away with it. Thus all three parish priests in Ipswich at this time were abusers. No odd rotten apple there: it was endemic, just like it seems to have been in Ballarat.

St J’s certainly affected me greatly and inspired my creation of the anti-establishment British comic 2000AD featuring Judge Dredd. It’s still going strong today after 42 years. My take on the sinister Judge Dredd – also the subject of two movies – drew directly on Brother James and Brother Solomon as I relate in my autobiography Be Pure! Be Vigilant! Behave! 2000AD & Judge Dredd: The Secret History.

To briefly describe Solomon (Mike Mercado), AKA The Swinging Monk: he was thrown out of DLSBs schools three times for sexually abusing boys. Each time they let him back in! I’m told he then headed out to Boys Town, to ‘work in the missions’ with Joe Homan.

I guess most old boys are more circumspect and discreet about how meeting such monsters affected them in later life. Perhaps wisely, they are able to put it all behind them. If so, I envy them. Like many other old boys I don’t have that luxury.

Mullin reassuringly pointed out to me that St J’s today is a very different school and I’m sure it is. So in theory it should be possible to put it behind me. However it still proudly proclaims itself to be ‘In the La Salian tradition’, which means something negative and unpleasant to me – and others.

The school also has a Mike Kearney Memorial Chemistry Prize. Kearney was a St J’s teacher in my day, so there are still clear links with the school’s past. They can’t be separated to distance the current regime when it suits them. More on Kearney later.

So someone – whether it’s the diocese, the school, or the De La Salle organisation, which is still going strong – should acknowledge the crimes of past DLSBs, which are a matter of record and provable beyond reasonable doubt. Certainly in the case of Brother James and Brother Solomon (Mike Mercado).

The diocese does have its investigatory body. If they become aware of a crime they must report it to the police which, as I’ve told them, is excellent news. However, both the police and the diocese are only concerned with cases where the perpetrator is still alive so he can be investigated. Neither the school nor the DLSBs have ever shown any interest in or commented on the disturbing testimonies related on this blog and on another similar site by a St J’s survivor.

This suggests to me that the commendable, strongly anti-abuse stance of the Catholic Church in recent years is empty spin. They only come out with it when they have to. Usually when they’re under media scrutiny or in the dock like Pell. Then they’ll wring their hands and tell us how much they deplore cases of historic abuse. Otherwise they don’t give a damn.

Apologist Catholic websites and Catholic press also seek to minimise such abuse charges and limit the damage at every opportunity. Although they don’t go quite as far as my devout Irish mother did. A year or two before I went to St J’s, there was a famous case at the college where a lay teacher ran off with a boy and they were ‘lost’ for some days. It made the newspapers and couldn’t be swept under the carpet as usual. My mother’s reaction was, ‘What a silly man! He should never have allowed himself to be led astray by that wicked boy. The poor man was weak.’ I don’t think the case ever went to court. The teacher was seen as behaving in this criminal way due to a mental breakdown and medical treatment was prescribed. I don’t think the kid stayed on at St J’s. Doubtless the risk of him leading other weak teachers astray was too great. My mother’s attitude was quite commonplace at the time, I assure you, and I suspect still is in many Catholic quarters, although they daren’t say it out loud anymore.

Instead, another excuse the Church uses today for its abusers is that they are the result of the sexual revolution in the Swinging Sixties. My Irish aunt would have agreed wholeheartedly with them. She firmly believed ‘moral decay’ began with The Beatles. But the events I’m referring to here are all pre-Beatles. Thus the Church still seems unable to take responsibility for its crimes. When it’s cornered, blame it on the Sixties. Blame it on anything except themselves.

But I want to come back to Kearney now.

Because Kearney was someone I would definitely add to my personal Roll of Dishonour of St J’s. He was well known as a sadist who delighted in recounting how he could lift a boy clean off the ground by his sideburns. I never had a problem with the discipline he administered to me personally, such as a caning for being caught smoking. It was a fair cop, which I always felt I deserved. Not least because I was stupid enough to get caught. No, it was the sadistic glee on his face as he used a blackboard duster on other kids’ knuckles that stays with me to this day. I doubt I’ll ever get his look of cruel delight out of my head.

There was more besides. Much more.

So recently, I’ve been woken in the night with endless symbolic dreams about Kearney. A sure sign of repressed memory, which I’m used to and know how to deal with, so it’s not a big deal anymore. My technique as a kid for dealing with or witnessing Catholic criminal acts was to block them out. So I could enjoy a perfect Ladybird book childhood. It worked incredibly well at the time and was a far better survival method than alternatives like using alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, the recollections spew out in later life and then have to be processed in order to get closure. So it annoys the hell out of me that I still have to waste considerable amounts of my time thinking about Kearney and figuring out what my fragmentary memories and symbolic dreams mean. Clearly they must be important.

Although it’s hazy, they seem to be connected with the local chapter of those good old Knights of St Columba. Maybe Kearney was a Knight or was closely connected to them. At the time, I related my concerns about them to my mother. Her response to my graphic claims was ‘but they do so much good work’. Whatever I said about them, she repeated this endlessly as a defensive mantra which I just couldn’t get past. So in the end I gave up and blocked it from my mind. Until now. Her attitude was understandable, though. The Church and the Knights were an important part of her world. Financial support for my schooling was almost certainly a crucial factor. Where matters involving the Church are concerned, I’ve always found ‘follow the money’ is most relevant. So faced with an angry eleven-year-old ‘making trouble’, her options must have been limited.

The Knights had a strong and – it would seem – positive behind-the-scenes role at St J’s. It was thanks to their financial efforts, for instance, that St J’s was established in the first place. I believe they bought the freehold on the Birkfield building for the DLSBs. Many Ipswich leading Catholic businessmen, priests and teachers were Knights. If you’re curious about them, their secret rituals were similar to the American Knights of Columbus. The latter’s neo-Masonic rituals can be found online. And I’ve also read a copy of the version once used by the UK Knights. It makes for disturbing reading. Not least because of what else may not have been committed to paper. But the UK Knights stopped all that ‘secret weird stuff’ – to quote other old boys’ description of them – sometime in the late 1960s apparently. After my time

Normally, it takes me some time to make sense of my repressed memories. Writing about them in a post like this helps. It’s a work in progress so I can’t be more precise just now, I’m afraid. Particularly as I like to cross-reference with others recollections where I can. Eventually the memories will emerge. Then I can thankfully consign Kearney to the dustbin of memory, where he belongs.

That’s the challenge we all face who’ve encountered Catholic crimes, whether it’s in Ballarat or Ipswich. So many of us can’t let it go and move on – because of repressed memories in my case, or post-traumatic stress disorder, or not acknowledging the significance of the crimes. Thus a well-known national journalist who went to St J’s, a few years before me, was drinking himself to death. He was a client of the charity Mind, and I was introduced to him by his social worker. He told me about the vicious, blood-drawing canings he received as a little boy at St J’s Oakhill prep school where he was a boarder. But he was furious with me when I suggested there was a possible connection with his current plight. ‘I’m not drinking with you,’ he snarled as he staggered back to the bar.

It’s not all in the distant past either. As late as the early 1990s, a counsellor friend told me he had several clients who were at St J’s. In every case he advised the parents that the remedy for their child’s problem was simple: take him away from the school. I doubt they listened. St J’s has such an excellent academic reputation it has all too often clouded other rather more important matters.

Banging Cardinal Pell up helps us all, I think – even if he eventually gets out on appeal. It means that in ‘one against one’ testimony, the victim is believed, for a change. In Oz anyway. There were plenty of similar contenders to Pell in Ipswich, as past comments on this site clearly show. And they’re not all dead like Kearney, James and Solomon/Mercado. Some from long after my time carried on in the same way. As a commenter (CS) on my Roll of Dishonour post vividly relates, a lay teacher used a cat o’ nine tails. Not easy for Catholic apologists to dismiss that one as ‘Oh, they were different times back then. You can’t judge these things by the standards of today.’

Seeing some past St J’s teachers acknowledged as criminals would be so valuable to survivors. And it should be someone’s responsibility to do this, right?

Better still, rather than spout empty spin designed to sound good for the benefit of the media, why not help put some of the more recent perpetrators away? I know of at least two old boys who have in recent years pursued predator Brothers and teachers from St J’s. I’m sure they could have used some assistance in tracking them down. I hope the predators were finally caught and banged up.

That’s the kind of memorial they really deserve.


Comment from Radders on Charity beings at home?

As a border who became a day dog I’m not sure where I fit in Opus’ taxonomy. My dad was in receipt of an army disability pension and my mother worked full time as a ward sister – and I was very conscious of the cost to them of me being at St Joes, not least of which was the A4 page of necessary kit and uniforms to be purchased from Grimwades.

It was in about 1970 I think that we had to sit through a talk and a slideshow on Boystown – I honestly can’t recall whether Homan gave the talk, but the older lads certainly referred to him as ‘Jo Homo’ with the cruel wit of youth – which may have indicated some knowledge of his activity, or may simply have been juvenile bile.

Some appeal form was handed out which we were supposed to pass to our parents with a personal plea to donate, having seen the slide show. I quietly binned it.

I don’t remember John McDonnell but I boarded with his brother Keith, forever in some sort of trouble for the usual minor infractions. We used to parade in forms on the car park between the E block and the Chaplain’s cottage whilst ‘Moggs’ – Mr McLaughlin – hopped onto a little raised dias to call the names of defaulters with his distinctive nasal twang. I can still hear him today – “McDonnell!” with the stress on the third syllable. Perhaps it is the correct pronounciation.

IN THE LA SALLIAN TRADITION 3

I wanted to write a new post in response to further comments on my About page from St Joseph’s old boys Nick and NW1 – thanks guys, and great to hear from you both.  I have appended NW1’s comment at the bottom of this post, because I think his story is incredibly important and I think it’s proving valuable for all of us who survived a dark period in the school’s history. Hitherto, it was unacknowledged, and I’m sure is still denied. Actually, just ignored.  But the sheer number of witnesses coming forward and confirming what happened makes a provable case.

For some of us it will be a catharsis; the knowledge that we were not alone in what we experienced or witnessed. For others it will be a resource for confronting whoever should take responsibility for these crimes and, at the very least, acknowledge them. Whether that is the De La Salle Order, its inheritors who claim they are still “in the Lasallian Tradition”, or the Catholic Diocese, remains to be seen.

I’d imagine there would be a certain amount of buck-passing and “no comment”, based on what I’ve read so far. The idea that a supposedly moral organisation that claims to care for its followers cannot speak out, on the advice of lawyers or insurers, is shocking and shameful. This would mean the Church or its relevant branches is controlled by lawyers, insurers and bankers. A fine Christian example.  I have the impression that they think if they say nothing and keep their heads down, we will all just quietly go away.

I certainly won’t. My particular viewpoint is that I believe abuse was organised and endemic in my parish in the Catholic Church in the 1950s and 1960s and presumably it went much further afield. I believe it was a way of life and, worse, it had a sick belief system to justify it. I have some evidence already to back this up and the comment by NW1 about Brother Kevin also points in that direction.

For me, the one rotten apple in the barrel idea (or in the case of St J’s, it’s about 5 rotten apples so far and counting) simply does not stand up to scrutiny.  They want us to believe this was the case – it was just one or two bad guys, whereas the rest were exemplary. Not so. Even though, of course, there were decent teachers there who we may remember with respect and admiration.  But they weren’t that decent, because they looked the other way when everyone knew what was going on. Everyone. They knew, and it’s to their shame they said nothing.  I was a day boy, so my knowledge and experience was restricted, but we still knew much of what was going on.  In a sense, the crimes of Solomon/Mike Mercado are so outrageous they obscure some of the others. The account about Brother Kevin, for example.

So, do please add your voice if you feel it will be useful to you. It will certainly be useful to me.  I’d  love to hear more from you and I’m sure that applies to other old boys who read this site.

 

Comment from NW1 on 17 September.  Read all comments on my About page (most of which are St Joseph’s related) here.

Hi there. Have just stumbled across this blog, drawn to it by a Guardian story I read this morning about child abuse in a Suffolk school, which I initially thought referred to St Jo’s but I then realised was about another Catholic order.

Just a quick comment of my own regarding St Joseph’s, Birkfield, and also Oak Hill, the prep school just down the road. I was a pupil at both between 1967 and 1974, when I was expelled mid-way through the year. As I was mid-way through my lower sixth, they allowed me to complete my studies at St Peter’s, in Bournemouth.

Many of the Brothers’ names mentioned in other posts are familiar to me and other boys used to talk about them as “homos” at the time, but I have no proof of this.

In my case, I was sexually abused by Brother Kevin, a diminutive shit who was at OakHill when I started there before transferring to Birkfield later in that year. My abuse began while I was at the prep school. Kevin was in charge of the boarders and used to summon me, as well as other boys, to his bedroom after lights out.

After he moved to Birkfield, Kevin used to come down to Oak Hill on Sundays, seek me out and try to abuse me in the biology rooms. The abuse continued when I moved to Birkfield myself and during my first year there, during which time I was a boarder in one of the dormitories in the so-called 55 Wing. Kevin, whose room looked out on one of the dormitories, continued in a similar vein as before, summoning me and others to his room after lights out.

He was transferred to France at the end of that school year (1968) but returned to St Peter’s, where I re-encountered him after my expulsion from St Jo’s. Inexplicably, he was once again in charge of the junior boarders. By then, I was too old for him, so was left in peace. I have no doubt whatsoever that he continued to abuse kids there. Sickeningly, the young boarders’ section included kids who wee six or seven years old.

About 20 years ago, I reported my abuser to the police in London and he was briefly detained, made a partial admission and was released on bail pending further inquiries. The next time he was interviewed he showed up with a solicitor and denied everything. He was never charged.

Simultaneously, I sued the Order in 1996 and after six years they settled out of court in return for me signing a confidentiality agreement which I suppose I’m breaking today. The settlement just about paid for seven years of therapy. However, the Order refused to offer an apology because to do so would imply that they were culpable. Even today, 15 years later, that refusal to admit what happened and apologise for it – despite paying me compensation – makes me feel incredibly angry.

I remember I went up to Oxford in the mid-90s to confront the order at its “Mother House”: they didn’t seem remotely surprised that Kevin was in the frame as a sex abuser. I mentioned another brother, (AKA Squealer) who I was fairly certain had abused children, although I did not have 100% definitive proof. They effectively admitted he too had been an abuser and it was suggested to me that I should consider whether giving his name to the police would be worthwhile as he now had dementia. I did name him to police but nothing happened to him either.

While I was at St Peter’s, there was another Brother – Cyril – who was in charge of the middle year boarders (3rd and 4th year). He too was talked of as an abuser by some pupils, although I did not have any personal knowledge of this. Cyril became head teacher at another school in Southsea, was subsequently charged and cleared of sex abuse.

Three years ago I was contacted by police in Dorset who had received another complaint of abuse at the hands of Brother Kevin by a pupil at St Peter’s. Dorset police managed to track down my name and other details from the 90s and I went through the another set of interviews, filmed this time, and waited several months before the CPS decided not to go ahead with a prosecution, again. My evidence and that of the other person were not considered credible enough.

I’m aware of several other kids who were abused during my time there, also by Brother Kevin. I once met up with one of them many years later. He and another lad were abused a year or so before me and I still remember him telling me that when Kevin started on me he felt jealous a being supplanted by someone else. There was also talk about several other Brothers being abusers while I was at Birkfield, including Squealer, but I have no personal evidence of that. It does make me wonder whether they had their own little circles and agreed not to poach kids from each other.

Almost 50 years later, the abuse still affects me. My entire personality has been affected by the experience and I know I will never be free of what happened. But I’m glad others are talking about it publicly here and in one or two other corners of the Web. It’s about time the Order was forced to face up to what so many of its members were doing. It should make a public apology. I would also like to all the abusers brought to trial. I’d be happy to work with anyone here to make sure that happens.