News

Victim suffered sickening abuse

TALES OF HORROR: Former Neerkol resident Joseph Kiernan, who now lives in Gympie, retells the horrific stories of his childhood at Neerkol Orphanage.
TALES OF HORROR: Former Neerkol resident Joseph Kiernan, who now lives in Gympie, retells the horrific stories of his childhood at Neerkol Orphanage. Austin King

JOSEPH Kiernan wasn't supposed to live for long after he was born.

But he lived; only to endure years of sickening physical and sexual abuse at Neerkol Orphanage.

Everyone on the first level of the Rockhampton Courthouse could hardly remove from their minds the gripping detail in Joseph's evidence to the Royal Commission panel, during yesterday's hearing into the Neerkol institution.

The Royal Commission heard that Joseph, 54, was a very sick baby.

He told the commission his mother was told he wouldn't live long and "she should just forget about me".

The Department of Children's Services placed Joseph at Neerkol Orphanage when he was seven years old.

Years of punishment, plus episodes of physical and sexual abuse, ensued.

The Sisters of Mercy nuns and former orphanage employee Kevin Baker allegedly punished Joseph for simple things.

He said one nun locked him in a storeroom all day because he had wet himself.

He couldn't get out to use the bathroom so he wet himself again.

Joseph told the Royal Commission that former groundsman Kevin Baker allegedly pushed him down a flight of stairs. Mr Baker has denied these allegations of abuse.

One Friday, after school (which he attended in Rockhampton), Joseph said he returned to the orphanage feeling unwell.

The following day, he sat up in his bed (in the boys' dormitory) and vomited all over the floor.

One of the sisters forced Joseph onto his hands and knees and made him lick up his mess, he said.

Following that, the sister hit him across the back of the head.

Joseph fell to the ground and split open his head.

In church the next day, he had trouble kneeling down to pray. "I was seeing two of everything... I was never taken to the hospital; no one cared."

Joseph said on another occasion, one of the sisters made him kneel for punishment because he had left his hat at school. The nun allegedly pulled up her skirt, dropped her underwear and made him play with her.

Following the act, he said she belted him for leaving his hat behind.

Joseph also graphically detailed the time he was sexually abused with a broom handle.

The years of alleged abuse took its toll on the Gympie resident, who said he took medication frequently to help him sleep at night.

"I often have nightmares because of my childhood," he said.

He said he wanted some form of compensation to pay for his medical expenses, which he had to pay out of his own pocket because he didn't have a Medicare card.

On several occasions he missed doctors' appointments because it was too expensive for the consultation.

One of the best moments in his life was finding his mother, who he grew up believing was dead. He placed an advertisement in the Queensland Country Life publication in the late 1980s, asking if anyone knew his mother.

Joseph tracked down his mother in Hervey Bay. By chance his aunty saw the ad and reconnected them.

"It felt great to meet mum... I started to form a bond with her; I also met other family members," he said.

In 1996, Joseph's mother had a stroke and eventually moved to a nursing home in Gympie. Joseph visited his mother frequently until she died in 2006.

Topics:  child abuse, crime, neerkol orphanage, sexual abuse




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Want a free Samsung tablet? We're giving them away

Get your hands on this baby totally free when you subscribe to our digital subscription offer.

YOU don't want to miss out on this ripper deal.

UPDATE: Second 5-metre croc sighting at Emu Park

A Yeppoon fisherman took this picture while crabbing at Coorooman Creek, Emu Park two weeks ago. Photo: Graham Leicht

Yeppoon resident comes forward with second '5 metre' croc sighting

14 things to do to avoid being attacked by a crocodile

Julian Lawton snapped these photos of the crocodile just before 2pm today down the Fitzroy River Gabriel Creek other side of the red bridge.

Video and list of tips to stay crocodile safe

Latest deals and offers

Capricornia would swing back to ALP if young people vote

Capricornia could be decided by young voters.

Young voters could be the difference in election.

Beyonce is better than Beethoven according to your dog

Sony research shows that dogs prefer Top 40 over classical.

Research commissioned by Sony shows that dogs like Top 40 more than classical.

Kevin Walters has done his homework on Moylan

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29:  Coach Kevin Walters during a Queensland Maroons State of Origin training session on May 29, 2016 in Gold Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Qld Couch Kevin Walters is aware of NSW fullback.

Own Sunshine Coast property? You’re about to make money

UP AND UP: Property owners are likely to win from rent and price increases but tenants and first home buyers might not be so happy. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily

Good new for property owners, not so good for buyers and tenants.

Sale nears on last large block of land in Coolum

The 43.37ha property on South Coolum Rd has sold.

South Coolum Rd property to be land banked