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Anger as Catholic orphanage abuse inquiry ends

Former residents of a Catholic orphanage who claim they suffered physical and sexual abuse have expressed anger at a police decision to end an inquiry into the allegations.

In May Bedfordshire Police said it had started an investigation into abuse at the St Francis Boys Home in Shefford in the 1950s and 1960s.

Police said they had ended the inquiry as there was no-one alive to prosecute.

Ex-resident Tony Walsh said he was "disgusted" at the development.

The BBC has talked to former residents of the home who allege they were physically and/or sexually abused at the orphanage, run by the Catholic diocese of Northampton.

In a letter to the complainants, Bedfordshire Police said officers had taken statements from 28 victims and identified a number of new suspects.

Police said the suspects included one priest (believed to be Father John Ryan, who ran the home in the 1960s) and four nuns, who "were found to have died", and two other suspects who cannot be located.

The police letter states that "as those suspects traced have died the investigation cannot be taken any further as there are no living people to prosecute".

Gordon McIntosh, a spokesman for ex-residents who says he was physically abused at the home, said: "I am saddened by the decision to close the case.

"How can they close it when they haven't located all the suspects?"

He said ex-residents were still coming forward and closing the case seemed "premature".

For more on this story and related articles, please see the BBC News website.

[Text © 2013 BBC News]