THE harrowing final few weeks of a seven year old boy's life of a Largs boarding school have been detailed in the findings of a Child Abuse Inquiry.

Aldo Moroni died at Yorkhill Children's Hospital for Sick Children in 1980 of septicaemia after sickening sexual and physical torment at St Columba's College in Largs

Lady Smith, chair of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, found that ­children were raped and sexually abused at the school run by the Marist Brothers.

Her findings in relation to the provision of residential care by the Marist Brothers between 1950 and 1981 were published this week.

Lady Smith said that brothers in positions of trust at the boarding school “violated their ­monastic vows” and “breached the trust of children and their families”.

Her report noted that several members of the order sexually abused ­children in Largs and said that two particular Marist Brothers with easy access to children were serial abusers.

She added: “They sexually abused children of tender years with ­impunity. Their presence at St Columba’s for a period of over 20 years meant that the sexual abuse of children was a ­chronic problem that destroyed childhoods and had a lasting impact.”

Aldo was both physically and emotionally abused at the school prior to his death.

Eye witnesses described a 'commotion' in which one brother was seen violently beating Aldo 'like a rag doll' as the youngster screamed in pain before collapsing on the stairs with blood pouring from his face.

Another incident saw Aldo hit on the face with such force that his glasses were thrown to the other side of the room.

In her report, Lady Smith said: "There was a link between the dreadfully abusive treatment that Aldo was subjected to at St Columba’s and his death. However, there is no evidence that the physical abuse he suffered was the actual cause of his demise."

A police investigation into his death in 2016 was prompted by allegations that it may have been as the result of an assault on him at St Columba’s.

In the course of that investigation, an autopsy report showed previous bleeding into Aldo’s skin could have been traumatic in origin, but concluded that there was no suggestion that that trauma had any link to Aldo’s death of septicaemia.

However, Lady Smith concluded: "Aldo was both physically and emotionally abused.

"As a small, vulnerable, seven-year-old child, he was an obvious target.

"However, the clear message is that whatever failures in the care of Aldo were committed by the Marists, the Marists were not responsible for his untimely death."

The report described the boarding school as having 'flawed systems'.

Lady Smith added that the “level of depravity at St Columba’s involved children being induced to engage in sexual activity in groups”.

Children were “excessively belted and beaten”, while some Marist Brothers threw wooden blackboard dusters at youngsters in the classroom.

Lady Smith said: “At St Columba’s, two particular brothers with easy access to children exploited their positions.

“Their presence at St Columba’s for a period over 20 years meant that the sexual abuse of children there was a chronic problem that destroyed childhoods."

In 2019, Peter Toner was convicted after trial at Glasgow High Court of seven charges that involved the sexual abuse of children in his care at St Columba’s and one charge of assault, resulting in 12 years imprisonment.

The Marist Brothers this week profoundly apologised for the horrific catalogue of sexual and violent conduct perpetrated within the Largs boarding school.

A spokesperson said: “This inquiry has shed light on shameful deeds in the past which were profoundly damaging to children, and which were criminal. The attitude that existed in the past to deal with such matters internally, to sometimes move people who abused, or not implement necessary changes, was inadequate and led to further abuse.

"To the parents and families of children who were abused we are profoundly sorry.”