Northern Ireland news

Patrick Carton: Former St Colman's Newry teacher a 'predatory offender'

Predatory maths teacher Patrick Carton was jailed for 13 years. Picture by Colm Lenaghan, Pacemaker

A FORMER head of maths at St. Colman's College in Newry, described by a judge as a “persistent, predatory and opportunistic offender who abused young people,” was jailed for 13 years today.

Patrick James Carton (75),  from Marguerite Close in Newcastle, Co Down, had abused six victims he was tutoring in their own bedrooms.

Standing in the dock of Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Antrim, Carton appeared shocked at the sentence. His relatives in the public gallery held their hands to their faces and cried.

Jailing the paedophile pensioner and imposing a Sexual Offences Prevention Order to run alongside the prison sentence, Judge Brian Sherrard 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,” he added that given the convictions, “it's clear that you have been offending from middle age”.

At the end of his seven week trial in March, a jury found Carton guilty on 29 counts of indecent assault between February 17 1983 and June 30 2007.

Patrick Carton was a former head of maths at St Colman's College in Newry. Picture by Colm Lenaghan, Pacemaker

The jury heard that Carton, who taught at St Colman’s College in Newry and De La Salle in Downpatrick, had given private maths lessons to the six victims.

The six victims, each of them teenagers at the time of the abuse, told the court that Carton had a “star system” of discipline with three stars serving “as a warning”, four resulting 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 gave evidence that on occasions Carton instructed them to lie on their bed while he smacked them but that in other incidents they were “put across” Carton’s knee.

One of the girls assaulted by Carton told the jury she had repeatedly told him 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 he 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.

Predatory maths teacher Patrick Carton. Picture by Colm Lenaghan, Pacemaker

One woman said 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 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 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 officers the various families had asked him to tutor their children through “word of mouth”, claiming that he did not smack the children to punish but in his mind it was to challenge the children and had always been done with their 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”.

Former maths teacher Patrick Carton was jailed for 13 years. Picture by Colm Lenaghan, Pacemaker

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