A woman accused of abusing a foster child has admitted making him lick soap but said she only used the belt as punishment four times before she decided to stop.
Avril Campbell and her husband Dennis looked after Christopher Scott between April 1976 and February 1981, and Mr Scott has previously told the Scottish Child Abuse inquiry of his alleged ordeal in their care, which he said included harsh punishments, humiliation, and regular beatings.
On Wednesday, Mrs Campbell told the Edinburgh-based inquiry she did use the belt, but only four times, and once gave soap to him as a punishment.
“I used the to smack their hands, I used to smack their bottoms. When we moved to Auchterhouse I tried the belt because I knew they used it at school,” she said.
She denied ever using the buckle in her punishments.
“The first two times (I used the belt) it was just rubbish,” she told Lady Smith, and added she had never seen it done before. “The third time I did it it was alright, and the fourth time I thought, ‘no, I’m not going to do this anymore’.”
Mrs Campbell told Ruth Innes QC, the inquiry’s senior counsel, that she never slapped or punched Mr Scott. “I was a nurse, I was careful about smacking,” she said.
She told Lady Smith she gave her three oldest children, including Mr Scott, a “taste” of soap but insisted she did not force them to try it.
“I gave it to them and they they just licked it, so they knew what it tasted like,” she told the inquiry.
“It was to stop them telling lies. I don’t think it’s good for children to tell lies.”
When challenged, she insisted they were “a good age” by this time: “We heard it from other people, it was not my idea.”
“It was quite a common punishment. I tried it once because I knew it happened.”
And, she told Lady Smith: “I’m surprised you’ve not heard of it. I wouldn’t have thought of it myself.”
Mr Scott has said she forced him to face the wall, which she denied to the inquiry, and said it was “not true” he was served with a previous meal if he did not eat it.
Mr Scott, who has waived his right to anonymity, had previously told the inquiry he was made to go outside naked. Mrs Campbell said she “didn’t put him outside he went outside himself”.
“He used to come up with some unusual ideas,” she said.
During her evidence, she suggested Mr Scott was after money. “That’s the only thing I can think, the only thing worthwhile I can see why he would say these things,” she said. “We thought we were going to be helping him.”
After a trial at Dundee Sheriff Court in March, Mr Campbell was found not guilty of two charges he faced. His wife was found not guilty on two charges, and a third was not proven.
The inquiry continues at Mint House, West Register Street, Edinburgh.