JIMMY BOYLE; EXCLUSIVE.
IT'S hard to believe now that society once labelled him the most feared and violent man in the country.
But, vicious as he was in his youth, one thing struck terror in the heart of former hardman Jimmy Boyle...
The De La Salle Brothers, the Catholic order of monks which ran List D Schools throughout Scotland with a sickening regime so brutal, it brought hard cases like Boyle to their knees.
Breaking a 43-year silence over the "sadistic beatings" at St John's List D School, Glasgow, Jimmy Boyle told the Sunday Mail of the horrific catalogue of abuse.
He revealed: "The violence at St John's was the worst I've ever witnessed, either on the streets or in the toughest jails.
"It was terrifying and vicious because the violence and abuse was directed at innocent, vulnerable children.
"Today, I'm still haunted by the sound of breaking bones as a monk deliberately smashed a child's leg to smithereens or the footsteps in the night that heralded yet another horrific rape of a terrified, crying child."
Boyle, 57, now a sculptor, was moved to come out of seclusion in the South of France to support hundreds of other victims of De La Salle brutality.
He made a heartfelt plea to the Catholic Church: "Drop this conspiracy of silence and open your hearts to the suffering of these men.
"We are all living testament to what happened in these schools. You know we are telling the truth.
"This is a weeping sore that will not go away until they are given justice."
Born in 1944 to a poor family in Glasgow's Gorbals, Boyle was hardly out of short trousers before he'd started on a life of crime, with shoplifting and petty thefts.
Gallus, tough and street-wise as he was, nothing prepared young Boyle for life inside St John's List D School in Springboig.
Barely 14, Boyle had stolen a cash box containing pounds 7 from a stall at a fun fair, a crime which was to earn him 14 nightmare months under the care of the De La Salle Brothers.
At St John's, he was soon to learn that, inside that building, brutality and gratuitous violence were as much a way of life as breathing.
He said: "As I stood in the school corridor, scared and thinking of my mum crying at the court, I was met by a De La Salle brother, his black robes flying around him as he walked towards me.
"He neither looked directly at me, nor said a single word. As he passed, he lifted his hand and smashed it down on my head.
"He was carrying a red snooker ball and I hit the deck like a pack of cards, as stunned by the blow as I was that a monk could do such a thing.
"It was the first taste of many beatings and tortures to come. Although some of us, like me, had already been in trouble with the law for petty offences, many boys had been placed there under care and protection orders.
"They were the most vulnerable and the easiest targets for paedophile monks, for the psychopaths and for the brutal monsters who stalked the corridors of the De La Salle schools.
"Every single one of us who went through that regime still bear scars on our hearts and souls. There was rampant child abuse, rape and paedophilia.
"Children were passed around like parcels of meat for the satisfaction of paedophile monks who ruled by terror and hid behind a conspiracy of silence.
"We'd lie in our dorm beds, night after night, and listen to kids being taken away to be raped and abused.
"I can still hear the sound of those footsteps walking across the dorm, stopping at a bed, then walking off again with a sobbing child as we cowered in fear under our bedcovers.
"I was a tough street kid, brought up in the Gorbals, so I was never a target for sex abuse.
"But we saw and heard it going on all around us, and knew there was no-one we could turn to or tell about it.
"We'd already earned the label of 'bad boys', so nobody cared or wanted to believe Catholic monks were paedophile monsters.
"It was unthinkable in those days to accuse a monk or a priest of sex abuse or of beating a child. My mother was a devout Catholic. Even she wouldn't have believed me if I'd told her what was going on.
"I was luckier than many of the other boys. I was subjected only to their brutality. I was never sexually abused. But the fear that you could be victim to sexual abuse was always there. We'd do anything to stay safe and keep the paedophiles at bay.
"One brother, nicknamed 'Bounce' because he was so fat, liked pornographic magazines as well as young boys. Whenever we got a weekend pass home, we'd bring him back some porn, so he'd pick on other boys for sex.
"It was like a survival game, but we were all casualties. What happened to me at that school still affects me deeply. Talking about it now, all these years later, is still very hard.
"I'm not making excuses for what I did in my life. But I, and most other De La Salle boys, went on to a life of crime, or to destroy ourselves through drink or drugs.
"Scotland's prisons were littered with the casualties of the De La Salle regime. Inside prison, we De La Salle boys were like a secret brotherhood. We all recognised the signs.
"We knew instantly who'd been inside a De La Salle school because we all carried the same deep emotional and psychological scars. In our darkest moments, we'd talk about our horrific experiences there. All of us agreed, no matter how tough any prison regime, none was as brutal as De La Salle.
"The stories were the same from all the De La Salle schools - St Mary's, Bishopbriggs, St John's, St Ninian's, Gartmore, and St Joseph's, Tranent.
"We found many monks moved around from school to school, abusing boys at will.
"Many of us had learned to fight against authority before we arrived at these schools. But we still trusted, respected and feared the Catholic Church.
"What hurt the most was these so-called men of God, the last men on Earth we expected to betray us, turning into abusers, and taking our last bastion of hope away."
After 14 months of brutality, Boyle was finally released from St John's. But the experiences had changed him. Long before he arrived at St John's, he had lost any respect and fear of authority figures. After St John's, he couldn't even trust the very Church his mother Bessie had lived her life and her family around.
It was the ultimate betrayal. Afterwards, Boyle was in and out of jail for most of his young adult life. He became a notorious knife man, involved in gang fights, slashings, bottle attacks and money lending.
He earned the nickname Babyface Boyle. But there was nothing cute or cuddly about Boyle in those days. In 1967, he was found guilty of murdering a rival gang member, William 'Babs' Rooney, and was jailed for life.
Railing against prison authorities led Boyle to years of dirty protests and extra jail time for violent outbursts against warders. Locked away like an animal inside the solitary segregation cages now banned in Scotland's jails, Boyle was the most hated and feared prisoner in the system.
He was ruthless, fearless and uncontrollable. In May 1973, as ringleader of the Porterfield prison riots, he was sentenced to a further six years for the attempted murder of six warders.
His salvation came after he became one of the first prisoners to enter the controversial and experimental Special Unit at Barlinnie.
In the Special Unit, Boyle discovered he no longer needed a knife or a weapon to express himself or make his mark on society. He found art and sculpture a more acceptable forum, and began carving out a whole new life.
He had been in prison for 10 years when he met psychologist Sarah Trevelyan, the middle-class daughter of former film censor John.
Drawn by his book, A Sense of Freedom, Sarah met him and soon saw through the hardman image to the real Boyle. Despite all the odds, and the huge gap in cultures, they were married in 1980.
Released two years later from jail, Boyle developed a respectable career as an artist and writer, feted by television and the media. Although they recently split, Jimmy and Sarah remain extremely close, continuing to work together for their life-defining charity, The Gateway Exchange programme.
Jimmy said: "I've been very, very lucky. I've gone on to enjoy a wonderful life, success and happiness. But, I know I'm one of the lucky few. Only a tiny handful of my contemporaries have managed to break away from the past.
"Most are still traumatised and badly affected by what happened. I recently met one of my old St John's schoolmates. He looked like a man in his 70s. I know this man was repeatedly abused. He was passed around the monks like a parcel of meat.
"He's a shadow of a man now. He shakes all the time and looks totally defeated by life.
"Larry Winters, who was in the Special Unit with me, was also at St John's. He wasn't a tough city boy. Being brought up in the country, Larry didn't have my hard edge. He was mercilessly abused by the monks.
"The De La Salle Brothers were big strong brutes of men. The sexual abuse they inflicted made the boys feel dirty and worthless inside.
"These victims have found it virtually impossible to have normal, happy relationships for the rest of their lives.
"They've found it difficult to relate to wives and girlfriends, and even to their own children. The damage is enormous. None of us realised how badly we were affected until we left these schools, and tried to get on with life in the real world."
Visibly moved by the plight of the hundreds of men who have come forward and accused the De La Salle Brothers of the most horrific acts of abuse, Boyle went on: "I share their pain.
"I'm dismayed and disappointed that Cardinal Winning has allowed this situation to drag on without intervening. As a man with a good heart, he cannot stay silent any longer.
"I'm disgusted by the Church's response to this scandal. The evidence of systematic abuse is overwhelming.
"How can they say the De La Salle order weren't responsible for running these schools?
"I was there for 14 months and, apart from a couple of civilian workers, I saw no-one other than De La Salle Brothers. I never saw any Board of Governors, or any other civilians. The head of St John's when I was there was a Brother Peter. He was a wonderful man who did nothing but inspire me.
"I believe I was protected from the full horror of the abuse because he was a benign influence. But it didn't stop the rest of the monks destroying other children in their care.
"The Nolan Report sets out guidelines which are supposed to stop anything like this ever happening again. But it also calls for past abuses to be investigated.
"I call on the Church to do that now, and end the suffering of these men and their families. This isn't about compensation, because no amount of money can ease such suffering. This is about justice.
"For 40 years, men have been suffering in silence, battling to come to terms with this horror. The Church can make a start towards the healing process by at least saying sorry.
"My wife Sarah was extremely supportive and helped me get over the traumas I suffered. She understood the effects of such abuse.
"She and our two children have given me their full backing to support the Sunday Mail campaign and to talk of my own experiences in the hope it will help others.
"If families in difficulty need support or counselling, we will try to help through our Gateway Exchange Opportunities Trust.
"I will be calling on First Minister Henry McLeish to ensure this issue is brought into the public arena, and I'm willing to give testimony to what happened in these schools."
Applicants for counselling and support can write to: Gateway Exchange Opportunities Trust, 13 Inverleith Place Lane, Edinburgh, EH3 5QJ.
Life and crimes of Jimmy Boyle
1944: Born in Glasgow's Gorbals. Is thieving while still at school.
1954: Sent to St John's De La Salle List D School for stealing pounds 7 from a fun fair cash box, and later describes the regime as the most brutal he's ever witnessed.
1956: Leaves St John's after 14 months. Soon joins the Glasgow street gang scene and earns a reputation as a hardman with a knife in the feared Gorbals 'Cumbie' gang.
1967: After various knife fights, sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of rival gang member William 'Babs' Rooney.
1968: Begins a campaign of violence against prison authorities at Inverness, and Peterhead and after being sent to the solitary block, begins a dirty protest in the notorious "cages". Another four years added to his sentence for assaulting officers at Peterhead.
1973: Described as ringleader of the Porterfield prison riots, and sentenced to a further six years. Categorised as most dangerous, violent prisoner in the country. Out of the blue, is invited to join Barlinnie Prison Special Unit.
1977: An art teacher gives Boyle a lump of clay, and a dam of creativity bursts forth. He writes his autobiography, A Sense of Freedom, in just six weeks, and it is published to critical acclaim.
1978: Beautiful middle-class psycho-therapist Sarah Trevelyan reads his book, and decides to meet Boyle. She quickly sees through the hardman image and their friendship blossoms.
1979: Second half of his autobiography, The Pain of Confinement, is published. A Sense of Freedom, with actor David Hayman's portrayal of Boyle, becomes a celebrated TV movie.
1980: He marries Sarah while still in prison and creates a media frenzy.
1982: Finally released from prison, Boyle is by now a sculptor, writer, artist, and totally transformed human being.
1984: Uses the proceeds from A Sense of Freedom to launch a trust for underprivileged kids.
1985: Daughter Suzi is born.
1988: Son, Kydd, follows.
1994: Murder of son James, from first marriage, aged 28, in Glasgow.
1999: First novel, Hero of the Underworld, is published.
2000: He and Sarah part.
2001: Quits Scotland for the South of France to protect children from his past, but pledges to continue his work with Sarah for their Gateway Trust project.
Life and crimes of De La Salle
1680: De La Salle Brothers are founded in France by John Baptist de La Salle. Not ordained monks in the true sense, but men with a vocation to teach.
1949: Recognised when the Pope proclaims St John Baptist de La Salle the "Patron Saint of All Teachers".
1950s: De La Salle Brothers take in thousands of Scottish Catholic children placed at their four List D schools under care and protection orders, or for minor petty offences such as truancy. Four schools - St John's, Springboig, St Mary's, Bishopbriggs, St Ninian's, Gartmore, and St Joseph's, Tranent - all have the motto: " To touch the hearts of your pupils is the greatest miracle you can perform."
1954: Jimmy Boyle is sent to St John's, Springboig for stealing pounds 7.
1982: With the costs of keeping each child at a De La Salle School reaching pounds 2000 a week at today's prices, the Scottish Office decide to change tack and the schools close.
1999: The Irish government is forced to apologise to thousands of victims of orphanages and schools, including De La Salle, after reports of widespread abuse. A commission investigating child abuse is launched, Legal Aid made available, and a compensation tribunal established. Over pounds 4million a year is pledged to provide counselling for the many victims.
2000: James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan reveals he was a victim of De La Salle brutality, repeatedly physically abused at school in Navan in the 1960s.
2000: In Belfast, suspected "pervert" monk, Joseph Scally, known as Brother Flo, is sued after abuse allegations from a former De La Salle pupil. Brother Flo, 64, was head of the De La Salle Boys' Home at Rubane, Kircubbin, County Down, from 1977 until the mid 80s.
2000: In Queensland, Australia, the De La Salle Brothers are among religious orders at the centre of horrific child abuse allegations. After the Catholic Church denies the allegations, the Australian government launch an on-going Commission of Inquiry into a catalogue of abuse at orphanages and detention schools dating from 1911 until the present day.
2001: The Sunday Mail reveals monks and civilian teachers are the subject of reports to the Procurator Fiscal after allegations of torture, sexual abuse and brutality at De La Salle Schools in Scotland between the 50s and the 80s.
Hundreds of alleged victims come forward, but the Scottish Legal Aid Board turn down their applications, claiming there is no evidence of "systematic abuse".
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|Publication:||Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||May 6, 2001|
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