A witness who was in Ferryhouse in the 1950s described seeing a boy who had absconded receive a severe beating in the dormitory on his return. He was visibly distressed as he told his story: He was 14, I think, 14 years of age, a big lad. A nice person. I used to refer to him as a gentle giant ... he was given an example beating in the dormitory ... He ran away with another two lads or something like that ... he was protesting, he had been in the school because he was 14 and the Committal Order was until he was 14 ... He should have been out. I think that was his general thing so he ran away. He was caught, brought back and up in the lower dormitory, at night time, when we were all up in the dormitory ... He was again brought out in the dormitory ... and he was approached by this Br Maximo8 ... Br Maximo would be the main physical man. [There were three other staff there] ... I don’t know. Did they want him to tip over so they could strap him on the backside? ... He wouldn’t anyway. He grabbed the bed and he wouldn’t let go of the bed so Br Maximo then proceeded to come down on his fists, on the boy’s fists on the bed ... then Br Maximo went to physically attack him anyway on the body ... He gave him a couple of whacks of the strap as well to see would that loosen the grip. It didn’t. We were all kind of getting closer and closer to what was happening ... In the end I think .... did, out of pure weakness, let go of the bed. Br Maximo started strapping him with the strap ... From fisting, and from clattering and from the strap ... it was quite a bad beating he got. Bear in mind he was only a young boy and you have a full physical adult using fists and what have you on him.
One witness described one such incident, when he was unfairly beaten by Br Maximo: I was coughing in the dormitory, I wasn’t feeling well, I was sick and I was coughing and I don’t know what time it would be, maybe it would be after ten or eleven or twelve o’clock at night and Br Maximo came out. He went down along the aisle of the dormitory, one of the aisles, and he wanted to see who was coughing. So he spotted me anyway and he said, “Were you coughing?” I said, I was. So with that he went and started belting me and clattering me from head down across the body for coughing ... With his hands, yes and told me not to cough again ... He gave me a fair old walloping that time ... It was so unfair severe at the same time. I never heard of anyone getting a hiding for being sick. That would be my view.
A witness who was in Ferryhouse in the late 1950s described a physical punishment favoured by Br Maximo: A few times, I don’t know what for, I can’t remember what it was for but I remember a few times where he told me, he used to do this a lot with a lot of people, hold the head steady by holding the ear to make sure that you didn’t move your head when he was going to give you a clatter on the other side of the head. He would give you several clatters maybe on the other side ... with the open hand.