Former maths teacher (75) jailed for 13 years for ‘predatory’ abuse

St Colman’s College teacher Patrick Carton told police smacking led to ‘the best results’

Retired teacher Patrick Carton arrives at Antrim Court on Wednesday before being sentenced to 13 years in jail. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan

Retired teacher Patrick Carton arrives at Antrim Court on Wednesday before being sentenced to 13 years in jail. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan


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 on Wednesday.

Ordering the sentences for each of his six victims to be served consecutively to each other, Judge Brian Sherard told 75-year-old Patrick James Carton said the penalty was “entirely in keeping with your course of persistent offending”.

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

Jailing the former teacher and imposing a Sexual Offences Prevention Order to run alongside the jail sentence, Judge Sherard told Carton he had been a “beacon of respectability” and had devoted his career to teaching maths to children “with some considerable success”but “it’s clear that you have been offending from middle age”.

At the end of his seven week trial last March, the jury of seven women and five men found Carton unanimously 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 which were committed on dates between February 17th 1983 and 30 June 30th 2007.

The jury heard that Carton, from Marguerite Close in Newcastle and who taught at St Colman’s in Newry and De la Salle in Downpatrick, had given private maths lessons to the six victims, abusing them in their own bedrooms.

The jury heard similar testimony from the six victims, five female and one male, each of them teenagers at the time of the abuse. They said Carton had a “star system” of discipline with three stars serving “as a warning,” four stars resulting in a smack, five leading to 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 where he smacked them but that in other incidents they were “put across” Carton’s knee.

One of the women 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.

“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.

Another woman said 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 incident where he had to “fight him off with his pants around his ankles” because 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”.

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

In his lengthy sentencing remarks, however, Judge Sherard said it was his view, having read the reports and heard the evidence, that despite his years Carton was “nothing less of a danger now than when you committed these offences”.

As well as the jail sentence, Carton was orders to sign the police sex offenders register for the rest of his life.

Speaking afterwards, Inspector Michelle Shaw from the PSNI Public Protection Branch welcomed the sentencing.

“The six victims have shown great strength in coming forward and throughout the seven week trial at Downpatrick Crown Court. I hope today’s result has lifted a huge weight from their shoulders,” she said.