March 2019

Ex-caretaker says sorry to Northern Ireland pupil he abused over 30 years ago

A former school caretaker who abused a male pupil in the 1980s apologised to his victim yesterday, telling him: “I am very, very sorry.”

David Patrick Jervis, who used to work as a caretaker at St James Primary School in Newtownabbey, was made the subject of a three-year probation order after he admitted sexually abusing the youngster in his office and car.

After Judge Patricia Smyth passed sentence at Belfast Crown Court, the 74-year old asked if he could apologise, turned to the man he abused as an eight-year old boy and said he was sorry.

Jervis, from the Antrim Road area of Newtownabbey, has already served a sentence for similar offences against other children. He admitted seven further offences committed on dates between August 1986 and June 1989, consisting of indecent assaults and gross indecency.

Prosecutor Kate McKay said that while some charges were related to specific offending, other charges reflected a “compression” of his offending behaviour.

She said Jervis’s offending emerged when the complainant, who is now 40, went to police to report he had been sexually abused whilst at primary school by the caretaker.

He said he was indecently assaulted by Jervis in his car whilst being taken to football training, and that when he pushed Jervis’s hand away, the caretaker laughed it off.

Other abuse, the complainant said, occurred in Jervis’s office in the school, and in the toilets.

Ms McKay said the complainant didn’t speak about what happened for years, but he later confided to his GP, his partner and his parents.

Following the allegations, Jervis was spoken to by police in October 2015, when he made no admissions. He continued to maintain his innocence then changed his pleas to ‘guilty’ on the morning of trial.

Gavan Duffy QC, representing Jervis, said his client’s guilty plea was a “vindication” for the complainant.

As well as placing Jervis on probation, Judge Smyth also made him the subject of a Sexual Offences Probation Order for five years and banned him from working with children.