Retired teacher sentenced to 13 years in prison for abusing students

Retired teacher sentenced to 13 years in prison for abusing students

6 June 2018

A FORMER maths teacher from Newcastle has been jailed for 13 years for the sexual abuse of young people.

Ordering the sentences for each of his six victims to be served consecutively, Judge Brian Sherrard described Patrick James Carton (75), of Marguerite Close, as a “persistent, predatory and opportunistic offender who abused young people”. 

Standing in the dock of Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Antrim, last Wednesday, Carton appeared shocked at the sentence while his relatives close by in the public gallery held their head to their faces and cried at the sentence.

Imposing a Sexual Offences Prevention Order to run alongside the prison sentence, Judge Sherard told Carton that while he had been a “beacon of respectability”, had devoted his career to teaching maths to children “with some considerable success” and was held “in high esteem”, all of this contributed to make his “fall from grace even greater”.

He said that Carton, “ostensibly a man of good character until 75”, had been offending from middle age. 

At the end of his seven-week trial last March, the jury of seven women and five men unanimously found Carton guilty on 28 counts of indecent assault and by a majority decision of 11 to one on a further count of indecent assault.

All of the offences were committed on various dates between February 17, 1983, and June, 30, 2007.

The jury heard that Carton, who taught maths at De La Salle High School in Downpatrick and was a former head of maths at St Colman’s College in Newry, had given private lessons to the six victims, abusing them in their own bedrooms. 

The jury heard similar testimony from each of the six victims, each of them teenagers at the time of the abuse, that Carton had a “star system” of discipline with three stars serving as a warning and four resulting in a smack. Five stars got a smack over underwear and six stars meant the pupil was smacked on his or her a bare bottom.

The victims gave evidence that on occasions, Carton instructed them to lie on their bed where he smacked them, but that in other incidents, they were “put across” Carton’s knee.

One of the females repeatedly assaulted by Carton told the jury she had repeatedly told Carton to stop but that it was “very hard” for a teenager to challenge a then 50 year-old man.

She said that 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 outlined 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.

One woman gave emotional testimony that the abuse she suffered at the hands of Carton had “ruined” her life, while other victims told the court how they remembered their tears falling on to 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 specific incident where he had to “fight him off with his pants around his ankles” because the Carton would not stop hitting him.

During his police interviews Carton told police he did not smack the children to punish but in his mind it was to challenge the children and had always been done with the parents’ consent.

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

At Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, prosecution lawyer Laura Ievers submitted there were numerous aggravating features to the case, including breaching the trust that was placed in Carton in that he exploited the tutoring arrangements in order to abuse the teenagers, as well as the “sheer number” of victims with the offences spanning some 24 years. 

She said it was also an aggravating feature that the offences happened not just in the victims’ homes but in the privacy of their bedrooms “where they were entitled to feel safe” and that the incidents had a “significant impact” on them. 

Defence barrister Mark Barlow conceded that although Carton “is going to custody, it’s as simple as that”, he submitted that his offences were “at the bottom of the scale”.

Mr Barlow said that as a result of the multiple convictions Carton “has lost everything, his standing in the community that he has served....and now he will be portrayed as a serial sexual offender who abused young teenage girls and a young teenage boy”.

The lawyer said while Carton always accepted the smacking aspect of his offences, he denied and continued to maintain his innocence regarding the more serious sex abuse aspect of the case which led to “an absence of remorse.”

Judge Sherard said Carton’s offending was “persistent and unrelenting”, and was committed across three different decades when he used his victims’ “naivety” with his “manipulation and deception” to facilitate the abuse. 

Carson was also ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for the rest of his life.