A MAN who was sexually abused at a Renfrewshire children's home in the 1970s has spoken of his belief a paedophile ring may have been operating inside the facility.

David Whelan, who waived his right to anonymity, said he believed he was being groomed to be "passed on" while he was at Quarriers Village, in Bridge of Weir.

The witness, who stayed at the orphanage between 1969 and 1974 after arriving at the age of 11, was abused there.

READ MORE: Quarrier 'sorry' over historic abuse at orphanage

Speaking at the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in Edinburgh, he said: "I believe I was being groomed to be passed on.

"At the time, you try and understand what was going on here, try to read what's going on here.

"I'm as clear as daylight – I was going to be passed on.

"I just wonder if there was a paedophile ring operating out of Quarriers, with some former residents."

The late 19th-century development consisted of dozens of orphan homes which were run by 'house mothers' and 'house fathers.'

In 2002, John Porteus was convicted of sexually abusing Mr Whelan while in his care.

The offences took place at Quarriers on a number of occasions.

Mr Whelan also spoke of physical and emotional abuse he suffered at the hands of others.

This involved him being beaten with a baton and a belt and being told he was unwanted by his parents.

Other alleged abusers cannot be named for legal reasons.

It was heard punishment also included hair-pulling and being made to stand outside in a shed, sometimes until dawn.

Mr Whelan spoke of strict rules and carers who would lash out with violence, often leaving him "petrified."

He said: "This was supposed to be a care home. From start to finish it was like being in a military establishment.

"They used derogatory language just to demean you, to belittle you.

"We weren't soldiers, we were children.

"There was no affection. It was like from a Victorian era, where the child was seen and not heard."

The witness described physical abuse as being "normalised" and said it went unchallenged by those in higher authority at the orphanage.

He added: "Bruises heal but what happens with the psychological stuff is it stays with you.

"It was beyond the bounds of what was reasonable. It was brutality and cruelty."

The inquiry is tasked with examining historical allegations of the abuse of children in care and began taking statements from witnesses in the spring of 2016.

READ MORE: Former children's home resident explains how abuse was 'way of life'

Its current stage is hearing from representatives and former residents of establishments run by providers Quarriers, Aberlour and Barnardo's.

Quarriers has apologised to residents who were abused while in its care.

The inquiry, before Lady Smith, will continue on Tuesday.