A CRUEL carer who meted out 'serious' abuse against vulnerable children aged as young as four at Quarrier's Village was told she is 'in denial' over her treatment of the youngsters - but has been spared prison.

Callous Anne Whitty - who force-fed and struck children with makeshift weapons - stood trembling and close to tears as a sheriff declared that her litany of crimes spanning four decades 'undoubtedly' passed the custody threshold. 

But Sheriff Thomas McCartney decided not to jail the 73-year-old after hearing that the prospect of prison 'terrified' her.

A sentence of unpaid work hours was met with a shout of 'shocking' from the public gallery, while relatives of Whitty - some of whom had been sitting hand-in-hand together - greeted the judgement with a cry of 'common sense'.

Whitty, who grew up in care at Quarrier's before returning to carry out her catalogue of crimes, was convicted of 11 charges of cruel and unnatural treatment by a jury.

She had originally faced 15 indictment allegations involving 16 boys and girls between the ages of four and 17, dating back to the 1970s.

The OAP has been handed the maximum number of unpaid work hours - 300 - as a direct alternative to custody.

The Gazette: Anne WhittyAnne Whitty (Image: Facebook)

She was found guilty of force-feeding children, striking them with her hands and shoes, repeatedly making abusive comments and compelling one boy to stand in a darkened room for prolonged periods of time, causing him unnecessary suffering and injury.

The elderly abuser hit another boy with a wooden spoon, assaulted a four-year-old girl and pulled an 11-year-old female's head back and forced food into her mouth.

She placed one young girl in such a state of fear and alarm that she wet herself, while another young boy was slapped on the head between 2000 and 2003 as Whitty shouted alarming and derogatory words and phrases to him.

Her solicitor told the court that the first offender had demonstrated 'lapses of judgement while dealing with troubled children' who had displayed 'challenging behaviour'.

The lawyer said: "There was an attempt, albeit a cack-handed one, by her to impose some form of discipline on the children.

"Her conduct fell short of what can reasonably be expected.

"She wishes to make it clear from the outset that there is no attempt by her to victim blame or victim shame when she refers to some of the children as trouble and one in particular as a 'Jack the lad' type.

"She is trying to explain the circumstances of the offences and her recollection of the events in real life experience but there is no attempt by her to put blame on the witnesses who gave evidence in court.

"She was in a significant position of trust in respect of the complainers and clearly there has been a failure on her part to safeguard the interests of the children in her care."

'Glowing' character references were presented to the court and Whitty was said to have been 'terrified' at the prospect of going to jail.

The Gazette: Paisley Sheriff CourtPaisley Sheriff Court (Image: Street View)

Sheriff Thomas McCartney told her: "You have been convicted by a jury of crimes of cruel and unnatural treatment of children. Some of those crimes date back to the 1970s. The offending continued over many years thereafter.

"The victims of those crimes were children, vulnerable children who had been placed in your care and protection.

"You were in a position of trust and responsibility.

"The offending is therefore of a serious nature.

"The evidence in this trial principally came from the survivors of this abuse, all now adults. They displayed strength and bravery in coming to court to give evidence in what will have been a hugely difficult experience for them being required to revisit those painful memories from the past.

"The victim impact statements are challenging to read and I am grateful that they have provided me with that insight into the impact on them."

The sheriff highlighted the 'persistent course of abuse' carried out by Whitty over many years and stated that the offences 'undoubtedly' passed the custody threshold.

He said: "It is a concern that you remain unable to acknowledge the extent of the ill-treatment of the child victims, your treatment of whom was cruel and unnatural.

The Gazette: Quarrier's VillageQuarrier's Village

"I note that you yourself grew up in care at Quarrier's Village and returned there to be given the responsibility to care for vulnerable children with little training or support.

"I form the opinion that you are in denial.

"You made a claim for redress for abuse during your own childhood but you are hesitant to call the treatment towards you abuse. That is consistent with an unwillingness to recognise your own abuse of children placed in your care."

The sheriff said he was 'satisfied' that the punitive and rehabilitative aims of the court's sentence could be achieved through a community-based disposal.

Whitty has 12 months to complete the unpaid work hours.