MBE pensioner jailed over ‘prolific’ child abuse

Trevor Francis was given an MBE in 2012.
Trevor Francis was given an MBE in 2012.

A Fife man who abused children within a care home has been jailed.

Trevor Francis, aged 71, abused several children at St Margaret’s Children’s Home in Elie during the 1970s.

Francis, a railway station master at Aberdour for more than 20 years, was sentenced today at Dundee Sheriff Court to nine months in prison.

Francis’ offending was reported to police in October 2014 and was investigated by local officers from Fife Division, supported by trained officers from the National Child Abuse Investigation Unit who worked to trace and support Francis’ victims throughout the process.

He was found guilty by a jury at Dundee Sheriff Court on Thursday, March 30.

Francis was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2012 for services to the community.

Detective Chief Inspector John Anderson of Fife’s Public Protection Unit said: “Francis is a prolific offender who hid behind a mask of respectability in the Aberdour community.

“Thanks to the courage of his victims this veneer has been exposed and Francis has finally been held to account for his actions.

“I would like to thank the victims for their assistance to police during our investigation. They can now take comfort in knowing that their abuser will spend time within prison.

“Police Scotland is committed to investigating any and all reports of abuse, regardless of when the crimes occurred.

“I would strongly urge victims who have not yet reported crimes against them to police, to do so immediately so we can bring those responsible to justice.”

Francis, a qualified nurse, took over as a manager at the home in 1973 after twisted paedophile David Murphy was forced out of a job at the home after allegations were made against him that were never followed up by police.

He was finally jailed in 2002 for 15 years after admitting 14 charges of lewd and libidinous practices and behaviour and 16 charges of sodomy spanning 30 years of his work at St Margaret’s and at another home.

Francis was part of a new regime at the home that should have removed the children from the threat of abuse.

But instead he was described as “creepy” and a “Jekyll and Hyde character” who subjected kids there to brutal physical attacks and sickening sexual assaults.

Francis’s name came up during the probe into Murphy in the late 90s.

But it was only when one brave victim came forward in 2014 that police were able to build a case against him.

Three girls - aged 14 to 16 at the time- told a jury that Francis would creep into the girls’ dormitory at the home in the night and sexually assault them.

A male resident at the home told how he had once run away and got as far as Kirkcaldy where he was picked up by police and taken back.

Francis took him into a laundry room and attacked him as punishment.

Other victims told how Francis slapped them in the face and beat them with a slipper in violent rages.

Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told the jury: “He is a manipulative, violent and predatory person who abused the trust of these vulnerable people who he was paid to protect.

“But instead he perpetrated physical and sexual abuse towards them and managed to stay undetected because of his Jekyll and Hyde personality.

“The accused might seem mild mannered – an upstanding citizen, a family man.

“His wife was at pains to tell you that her Trevor would never have acted like that.

“We are dealing with an intelligent, manipulative man who can turn on and off that predatory, violent behaviour.”

A jury of eight men and seven women took two and a half hours to find him guilty by majority of two offences of using lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour towards young girls and three assaults.

One further lewd and libidinous charge and three assaults were found not proven.

Defence solicitor Kerr Sneddon said: “He maintains his innocence. He therefore can’t take responsibility for his actions.”

Sheriff Alastair Brown jailed Francis for nine months and placed him on the sex offenders register for ten years.

He said: “He has been convicted of offences that were committed while he was in a position of trust.

“You appear to have struggled and resorted to shouting at the children.

“I’m also conscious that corporal punishment was regarded as acceptable at the time.

“However, this was a gross breach of trust.”

As well as manning the ticket office in the village he spent up to six hours a day maintaining floral displays at the station, winning awards for his work.