UK

Jersey Abuse Inquiry: Child Forced To Sleep Next To A Dead Nun At Care Home Of Horrors

12/09/2014 12:32 BST | Updated 12/09/2014 12:59 BST
Christian Keenan via Getty Images
JERSEY, UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 24: A Jersey police officer stands outside Haute de la Garenne where the remains of a child's body have been found during an investigation into child abuse dating back to the 1960s, at Haute de la Garenne youth hostel in St.Martin, on February 24, 2008 in Jersey, Channel Islands. Jersey police began to investigate abuse allegations in November lat year, and have not ruled out the possibilty of finding more bodies as their search continues. (Photo by Christian Keenan/Getty Images)

A young girl was forced to sleep in a locked room next to a dead nun, a public inquiry into historical child abuse at a care home of horrors has heard.

The orphan girl, now in her 60s, told of the abuse she suffered at the hands of nuns at the Sacré Coeur orphanage, at Rouge Bouillon, Jersey, who beat children with spoons and forced them to work in a knitwear factory, the BBC reported.

The witness, referred to only as Mrs A, described how in one nightmarish instance, nuns confined a child no older than six to a room where a dead nun had been laid in a coffin.

“The worst punishment was that I was told by a girl she was put in a room with a dead nun overnight,” she said, The Times newspaper reported.

Other punishments included the children having sheets pulled up tightly over their heads so they couldn't move and having to eat meals in a toilet, she said.

"You would talk and you were taken away and put in what I call a toilet area and locked in there and you were made to eat your dinner in there."

"The nuns overall did not care about the children," ITV news reported the abuse victim as saying.

Children were also forced to work unpaid in the nuns' knitting factory, the inquiry heard.

“Children worked, they never played," the victim said. "As children you were given things to do. Nobody spoke a word about anything. You just got on with it.”

Mrs A said politicians must "be honest about what happened", while urging former residents to seek help.

"I truly believe people need to get counselling so that they are able to put it back where it belongs: in the past," she said.

"It is not their guilt to carry. It is everybody else's."

Winifred Lockhart, a former resident of Haut de la Garenne, another home at the centre of the inquiry, told the inquiry how nuns sexually assaulted those supposed to be in their care.

Upon speaking to a boy years later about the abuse they suffered, he told her a staff member had "done horrible things" to him, she said.

As part of the year-long inquiry, police have taken 1,776 statements from 192 victims since September 2007 in what is the landmark investigation into horrifying care home abuse in Jersey between 1945 and the present day.

The inquiry continues.