Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Former teachers jailed for abusing boys at Fife residential school

Paul Kelly, on the left, and John Farrell
Image caption Paul Kelly, on the left, and John Farrell both taught at St Ninian's

Two former teachers at a school in Fife run by the Christian Brothers order have been jailed for a total of 15 years after being convicted of the physical and sexual abuse of pupils.

Former headmaster John Farrell, 73, from Motherwell, was jailed for five years and Paul Kelly, 64, from Plymouth, for 10 years.

The offences were committed at the former St Ninian's school in Falkland.

Farrell and Kelly had denied all charges.

They were convicted last month after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

As the men were led away, one woman in the court shouted: "May God do to you what you did to others."

The school closed in 1983.

Victims' campaign

The man who launched a campaign to bring Kelly and Farrell to justice asked not to be named, but said outside the court: "I started it for me, but it turned into a group thing. We have never got closure, but we have got justice.

"Back then nobody would have believe us if we had said what was going on. We were told: 'You are here because you're bad. No one will listen to you. We are men of God and they'll believe us before you."

Minutes earlier Lord Matthews told Farrell and Kelly: "St Ninian's List G school was meant to be, not only an educational establishment, but a haven for children in need of care and protection and a place of guidance for them.

"You were entrusted by the community and the Church with those duties of education, care, protection and guidance.

"You fulfilled these duties as far as a number of children were concerned and you were each acquitted of the vast majority of the charges which you faced.

"Nevertheless the jury found you guilty of a number of gross abuses of the trust placed in you in relation to some of the most vulnerable members of our society, children from difficult backgrounds with no effective voice."

Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption The building which was formerly home to St Ninian's, which closed in 1983

Farrell was found guilty of four charges and Kelly was convicted of seven charges last month.

The jury acquitted Farrell of 18 charges relating to the case, while Kelly was acquitted of 22 charges.

The pair, who were found guilty after a 13-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow, were both placed on the sex offenders register.

The victims were abused between 1979 and 1983, when they were aged between 11 and 15.

Farrell, who was the headmaster, was convicted of physically abusing one boy and sexually abusing three others.

Kelly was found guilty of sexually abusing two boys and sexually and physically abusing a third.

One of the victims was sexually abused by both men on different occasions.

During the trial, the court heard that Kelly's bedroom was described as an "open area" where pupils often spent the night.

Boys said they were told by Kelly they were being abused for their "sexual education".

Three other men linked to St Ninian's - ex-social worker Michael Murphy, 75; Edward Egan, 76; and William Don, 62 - had also faced abuse allegations, but these were thrown out during the trial.

'Professionalism and sensitivity'

Kenny Donnelly, procurator fiscal for serious sexual offences in the East of Scotland, said: "These men have been convicted of serious sexual offences against vulnerable boys.

"Although these crimes took place decades ago, this case, and others like it, show that justice can be achieved after many years.

"We strongly encourage anyone who has been a victim of any such offences to report this to the police, even after a significant passage of time, and they can be confident that they will be treated with the utmost professionalism and sensitivity by the police and our expert prosecutors."

Ch Insp Nicola Shepherd, of Police Scotland, said: "These sentences reflect the severity of the crimes committed against the young victims, who at the time were in the care of both Farrell and Kelly.

"The abuse took place over a number of years causing untold misery and suffering to the boys and was a complete betrayal of the trust they placed in these men.

"Thanks to the bravery of the victims, a significant case was built against them during this extensive investigation and the evidence and testimony of the victims ultimately led to their conviction.

"I would like to thank all of those who came forward to provide us with information for their courage and strength."

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