HMA v John Bernard Farrell and Paul Vincent Kelly

At the High Court in Glasgow today, 12 August 2016, Lord Matthews sentenced Paul Kelly to 10 years’ imprisonment and John Farrell to five years’ imprisonment after the two accused were convicted of historical child sex offences.

On sentencing, Lord Matthews made the following statement in court:

“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 and for children who had committed relatively minor offences and were in danger of entering a life of criminality.

You were entrusted by the community and the Church with those duties of education, care, protection and guidance. There was evidence and there is material in the references to the effect that you fulfilled those duties as far as a number of children were concerned and it is fair to point out that you were each acquitted of the vast majority of the charges which you faced.

Nonetheless 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.

Each of you has done a considerable amount of good in the past and I have taken account of all of the evidence to that effect, everything in the reports and references, your ages and personal circumstances and what your counsel have had to say on your behalf. However, the exploitation and sexual abuse of children in your care is a matter which cannot be visited with anything other than sentences of imprisonment.

You were each convicted of one charge of physical assault but I do no more than discharge you absolutely on those charges, namely charges 33 and 56 on the indictment which went to the Jury.

That is not because this sort of conduct is not deserving of punishment, but because in terms of my directions to the jury as to mutual corroboration they could not convict each of you on one physical assault charge alone and I am satisfied that the convictions on those charges cannot stand. It is unfortunate that that was lost sight of at the time.

As far as the remaining charges are concerned, not only have I had regard to those matters which I have outlined but I have also taken account of the victim impact statements which have been provided to me in relation to three of the complainers.

The vulnerabilities to which all of the victims were already subject were plainly greatly exacerbated by the revolting abuse to which they were subjected at St Ninian’s and it is no exaggeration to say that their whole lives have been blighted by what went on.

No sentence I can pass can undo the grievous harm caused to them by your conduct. It can only be hoped that the jury’s verdict can provide some form of closure for them after all these years.

In each case the sentences will run from 22 July of this year when you were remanded in custody.

In your case John Bernard Farrell, in relation to sexual offences, you were found guilty of three charges.

Charge 1 involved mutual masturbation with a child on two occasions. Charge 59, in relation to another child, again involved mutual touching on two occasions. Charge 37, in relation to another child, involved the same kind of conduct on a considerable number of occasions for about two years but also many occasions when you penetrated the child’s mouth with your penis.

You Paul Vincent Kelly, in relation to sexual matters, were found guilty of even more serious offences.

Charges 31 and 32, in relation to one child, involved numerous occasions of mutual masturbation and both oral and anal penetration. Charges 39, 40 and 43, in relation to another child, involved not only numerous instances of mutual masturbation and oral and anal penetration but also involved your encouragement of other children to carry out similar actions. That was grossly corrupt. Charge 77, in relation to a third child, involved oral penetration of a child on perhaps three or four occasions.

John Bernard Farrell, on charges 1, 37 and 59, in cumulo, you will be imprisoned for five years.

Paul Vincent Kelly, on charges 31, 32, 39, 40, 43 and 77 in cumulo, you will be imprisoned for 10 years.

You will each be subject to the notification provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for an indefinite period. I have already directed that the Scottish Ministers be notified of your convictions in terms of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007.”

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