March 2018

Retired Co Down maths teacher guilty of indecent assaults

A former head of maths at St Colman’s College in Newry has been convicted of indecently assaulting five girls and a boy he was privately tutoring outside school.

A jury at Downpatrick Crown Court found 75-year-old Patrick Carton unanimously guilty of 28 charges of indecent assault and by a majority decision of a further count, committed between 1983 and 2007.

Carton, from Marguerite Close in Newcastle and who taught at St Colman’s in Newry and De La Salle in Downpatrick during his career, remained impassive in the dock as the verdicts were announced.

Judge Brian Sherard adjourned passing sentence to April 27 and he was freed on continuing bail but ordered to sign the police sex offenders register.

During his seven-week trial, the jury heard similar testimony from each of the six victims – all teenagers at the time of the abuse – that he had tutored them in maths in their bedrooms and had a “star system” for discipline.

They were told that three stars served “as a warning”, four resulted in a smack, five stars got a smack over underwear and six stars meant the pupil was smacked on his or her bare bottom.

The victims said Carton sometimes instructed them to lie in their bed where he smacked them, but in other instances were “put across” his knee.

One of the women told the jury she had repeatedly told him to stop but it was “very hard” for a teenager to challenge a 50 year-old man.

She said when he first told her of his methods she was “shocked” and thought her tutor was “joking”.

“I told him I didn’t want to get smacked. I didn’t like it. It was not right,” she said.

“He said this would make me pass my maths. It would make my parents proud.”

She also told how, when she was in lower sixth and before she got her A-level results, the abuse escalated to sexual touching with Carton telling her it was her “award” for doing well in her lessons.

Another woman gave emotional testimony that the abuse she suffered had “ruined” her life, while other victims told how they remembered their tears falling onto their work sheets and how the smacking left them unable to concentrate.

The male victim recounted how Carton pulled his pants down to smack him while being taught maths at his home in the 1980s, describing one incident where he had to “fight him off with his pants around his ankles” because Carton would not stop hitting him.

Carton told police that various families had asked him to tutor their children through “word of mouth”.

He claimed he did not smack the children to punish them but to challenge them, and it had always been done with parents’ consent.

He denied any criminal wrongdoing or gaining sexual gratification, telling police it was “the most effective method” that led to “the best results”.

By their verdicts, however, the jury rejected his claims.