Fr Andrew stated that he later heard from Sr Vita,29 who had been in charge of the Boy’s Junior Industrial School at Passage West, a feeder school for Greenmount and Upton, that Bishop Lucey had visited her and directed her not to transfer boys to the two senior schools mentioned, thus contributing to the closure of those schools.
After four years’ training, he qualified as a nurse and, on one occasion, was sent on special duty to attend a patient who needed treatment in hospital in Cork. At that time, a young resident of Passage West Industrial School was in the hospital where he spent approximately one month. Mr Restin befriended the boy and got to meet the Resident Manager of Passage West, Sr Vita,26 who regularly visited the hospital. When the boy left hospital and returned to Passage West, Mr Restin began to visit Passage West at weekends, when he would spend time there, play ball with the children and occasionally have a meal with the nuns in their dining room. He said that the Resident Manager was aware of his medical training and that she also knew he was an ex-Cappoquin resident.
Some time later, he realised that Mr Restin was abusing others. He began to notice signs as boys emerged eating sweets, having spent some time with Mr Restin. He and two other boys went to the Resident Manager, Sr Vita, in her room and told her what Mr Restin was doing. She seemed sympathetic and asked them to name the boys who were being abused. He named about 12 to 15 boys, and the other boys named a few. He was called to her room later that evening, where the boys he had named were lined up. The Manager asked them in turn if Mr Restin was ‘doing stuff’ to them, and all the boys except for one denied it. The witness and the other boy who confirmed the abuse were taken to the hall and given beatings, which were so severe that the other boy was injured and required stitches. The witness absconded a few days later with two other boys. He thought that he was not caught for about two and half weeks and did not recall being punished, which he felt was because the Resident Manager was well aware of why he ran away. Mr Restin did not bother him after that, and he could not remember when Mr Restin left Passage West.
The records show that in one particular academic year 19 persons attended the Kilkenny childcare course instead of the usual 20, and Mr Restin was not one of them. It appears that his application was blocked as a result of an unfavourable response given by Sr Vita to a query made by a Department of Education official in reference to Mr Restin’s suitability for the post.
He said that Mr Restin raped him on three occasions. The first time, it happened in a field to which Mr Restin had driven him. The second was in Mr Restin’s cubicle in the dormitory, and the third in an old disused train carriage in the school grounds. He said Mr Restin punched and beat him on the back during one rape. After the last occasion, he did everything in his power to avoid Mr Restin, by staying close to the other boys and his brothers. He said he then built up courage to go to the head nun in the convent, which was separate from the School. He said he told her at the front entrance to the convent that Mr Restin was sexually abusing him. She told him to go back to the School and she would speak to somebody about it. Some time later, Sr Vita called him and accused him of spreading wicked lies and gave him a severe beating. Soon after this, Mr Restin left.
Sr Vita worked in Mount St Joseph’s Industrial School in Passage West from the early 1940s to the early 1980s, and was Resident Manager from the early 1970s until she left. She was a qualified nurse. She is now deceased. Her evidence was taken on commission at a nursing home in Cork. Sr Vita’s recollection was that the first complainant above told her about Mr Restin, who had threatened to do something to him and to a number of younger boys. She said that she asked him whether Mr Restin had threatened to beat him, to which he replied that he had not. She did not pursue the matter further ‘in my innocence and ignorance I suppose’ and said she did not know what the boy could have meant, although she did believe that he had been threatened by Mr Restin. She sent for Mr Restin, but he had left the Institution by then. She never saw him again. She said that she phoned Cappoquin looking for him but he was not there. In a statement made to the Gardaí she said: After [the complainant] had told me about [Mr Restin] I tried to contact him in Cappoquin. I wanted to talk with him to find out if it was true or false what [the complainant] had said. I did not get to speak with him, I left a message for him to contact me, but he did not.
Mr Restin’s evidence was that he did not believe he was asked to leave Passage West, nor did he think Sr Vita knew he had abused boys there. He arranged to move to Cappoquin while he was still working in Passage West. He was vague in his evidence as to how the job arose. He believed that he met Sr Isabella from Cappoquin while he was doing an interview for the childcare course at Waterford Regional Technical College. Cappoquin was nearer to Waterford than Passage West, and would be more convenient if he was doing the course. He believed that he might have told Sr Isabella he was thinking of doing the course, and thought that she suggested that he contact Cappoquin.
The job he got in Cappoquin involved general childcare duties, and teaching a remedial class of boys who had reading difficulties. He said that he assumed he would have sought a reference from Sr Vita for the course and for his move to Cappoquin, but there was no record of any such request or reference on file in either Cappoquin or Passage West. The records show that, while Mr Restin was in Passage West, he was also spending time in Cappoquin Industrial School. In the early 1970s, an official from the Department of Education carried out a general inspection of Cappoquin Industrial School and reported that: A ... nurse ... visits the school every few weeks to lend assistance in placements (he helps out similarly in the Passage West School in Cork).