A CATHOLIC monk who tortured children at an East Lothian List D school has had further charges against him dropped – due to a clerical error by prosecutors.

Michael Murphy was jailed for seven years at the High Court in Edinburgh in April 2016 after he was found guilty of brutal assaults on children at St Joseph’s List D School, near Tranent, which closed in 1997.

Murphy, who was known as Brother Benedict or Brother Ben, also sexually molested several of the youngsters at the former school during his reign of terror in the 1970s.

Following press coverage of the case, many more alleged victims came forward claiming 85-year-old Murphy had also abused them at St Joseph’s and at St Ninian’s School, Gartmore, Stirling.

The new allegations claimed Murphy sexually and physically assaulted 12 boys by administering electric shocks to them and beating them with weapons including knotted laces and tree branches.

Court papers also state that Murphy, from Liss, Hampshire, allegedly tortured one 11-year-old boy by attaching metal wires to his genitals and administering an electric shock.

The monk was also alleged to have sexually abused four others by handling their genitals while allegedly committing a solo sex act.

The new allegations were all said to have occurred at St Joseph’s and St Ninian’s schools between December 1964 and June 1987.

Murphy was brought from prison to face the new charges and appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on petition on October 25, 2017.

He was fully committed one week later on November 2 and was due to stand trial on the charges later this year.

But it has now emerged that all the charges have been dropped after prosecutors confused the indictment’s time bar date on three separate occasions.

Murphy’s counsel lodged an appeal against the Crown’s decision to proceed with the trial and the case was heard at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh last November in front of three judges.

The Appeal Court judges found the Crown had confused the time bar date of the case, which should have run from the earlier date in October as Murphy was already serving a custodial sentence.

The judges’ decision found “there were two separate occasions when these papers were in the hands of qualified staff when the use of the wrong date was identified and an instruction issued which should have corrected the error”.

The judges went on to say the case was then “looked at [for a third time] by a further qualified member of staff when the error was again identified, this time specifically” but still no action was taken by Crown staff to correct the error.

The judges’ decision added: “Had this been done, the case would have timeously been indicted.” They went on to say: “We have been given no explanation for the fact that no action was taken.”

The Appeal Court decision concludes: “In these circumstances, we consider it impossible to say that the first part of the test in Swift has been met and we will therefore allow the appeal.”

A Crown Office spokesperson said the situation “has been communicated to those involved”.

Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr blasted the admin blunder.

The MSP said: “Mistakes like this in such sensitive and significant cases simply should not happen.

“This means a number of people whose lives have been ruined won’t get justice. That’s not good enough and cannot be repeated in future.”

Irish-born Murphy was found guilty of 15 assault and indecent assault charges involving eight boys during a “regime of fear” at St Joseph’s in the 1970s.

Victims told his 2016 trial that Murphy laughed as he gave electric shocks to boys. One boy’s hands were burnt and another passed out.

He was jailed for seven years at the High Court in Edinburgh.

In 2003, Murphy, who is deaf, was convicted of 10 assaults on nine boys dating back to the 1960s.