Pair Found Guilty Of Abusing Fife School Pupils

22 July 2016, 14:12

Two men have been found guilty of sexually abusing and assaulting boys at a Catholic-run school in the 1970s and 80s.

John Farrell, 73, and Paul Kelly, 64, were convicted of several charges against six former pupils of St Ninian's School in Falkland, Fife, after a long-running trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The men were remanded in custody after a jury found Farrell, from Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, guilty of three counts of indecent assault and a charge of assaulting a boy with a belt.

Kelly, from Plymouth, Devon, was convicted of four counts of indecent assault and three assault charges, including hitting a boy's head off sinks at the school, which was run by members of the Catholic religious order the Congregation of Christian Brothers.

St Ninian's housed about 45 vulnerable boys in need of care until its closure in 1983.

Farrell and Kelly committed the crimes over a four-year period from 1979 against pupils aged 11 to 15.

Kelly was found guilty of having oral and anal sex with boys and on other occasions made pupils perform sexual acts on themselves, on each other, and on him.

The pair were tried on about 50 charges but the jury, returning a verdict on their eighth day of deliberations, found them not guilty, or the offence not proven, for all but 11.

Charges against three other men were earlier dropped.

The trial before Lord Matthews began in April and followed one of the biggest abuse inquiries of its kind ever carried out by Police Scotland.

Several victims attended court and cried "yes'' when the judge told the men, previously on bail, that they would be remanded in custody ahead of sentencing next month.

The current police investigation into St Ninian's began in 2013 after officers received three separate complaints of sexual abuse from former pupils.

A total of 37 men eventually came forward with claims relating to their stay at the residential school, which took in boys who had been orphaned, neglected, or could not be looked after by their parents.

Police Scotland said Kelly and Farrell - headmaster of St Ninian's at the time of the offences - had betrayed pupils' trust "in a despicable manner''.

Chief Inspector Nicola Shepherd, who led the investigation, said: "For a number of years, these men, who were placed in a position of trust, carried out prolonged abuse on a significant number of vulnerable young people.

"They betrayed that trust in the most despicable manner possible and subjected their victims to years of suffering.

"It is thanks to the courage of those who came forward to provide us with vital information that we were able to bring Farrell and Kelly to justice for their crimes.

"Police Scotland treats all sexual crime with the utmost seriousness and will dedicate all the necessary resources to investigating these offences whenever they are reported to us.

"We will ensure survivors of childhood sexual abuse are listened to and their reports are thoroughly investigated regardless of the passage of time. All reports of sexual abuse will be handled with the utmost sensitivity and professionalism.''

The jury found Farrell not guilty of hitting a pupil with a Bible and Kelly not guilty of locking a boy up in a cage in the school basement as a punishment.

The pair were also cleared of making pupils stand in a hallway for prolonged periods while naked or wearing only their underwear.