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Friday, 25 August, 2000, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
Cruelty charge falls after collapse
Sister Alphonso
Sister Alphonso now faces 22 charges
A nun has been acquitted of one of a series of child cruelty charges after a woman collapsed in the witness box.

Ellen Grant fainted after describing her time at a Roman Catholic children's home in Aberdeen as "hell".

She had to be taken to hospital and was later excused from giving further evidence at the trial of Marie Docherty.

Sheriff Colin Harris ordered that the nun, also known as Sister Alphonso, should be formally acquitted on the charge relating to Miss Grant.

But she still faces 22 further charges of cruelty towards young girls at Nazareth House between 1965 and 1980. Sister Alphonso denies all charges.

The charges
Marie Docherty faces 22 charges, all of which are denied
The charges date from 1965 to 1980
They include - forcing girls to kiss dead nuns
Punching, slapping and kicking girls
Forcing girls to wear soiled underwear
The trial is expected to last up to six weeks
Miss Grant told Aberdeen Sheriff Court she was sent to Nazareth House when she was eight after her mother died.

She said that on her arrival she was crying and missing her mother.

Sister Alphonso is said to have told her: "Your Mum is dead, you are an orphan and nobody wants you."

She said she also tried to stay awake at night because she feared she might wet the bed and face having the soiled sheets put over her head.

When asked if she could remember her time at Nazareth House she replied "it was hell".

Miss Grant fainted as she recalled her experiences and the trial had to be adjourned while she was given medical care.

On Friday, another witness, Grace Montgomery, 37, said a television programme had prompted her to tell police about her treatment.

She said she had blanked out her time at the Nazareth House home in Midlothian and admitted her recollection of the eight years she was there were vague.

The trial was adjourned until Monday.

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23 Aug 00 | Scotland
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'Broken teeth' claim at nun trial
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