AN “UPSTANDING citizen” given an MBE for services to a Fife town has been stripped of the honour by the Queen after he was jailed for battering and sexually abusing young kids in his care at a notorious children’s home.
Trevor Francis was given an MBE at Buckingham Palace by Prince Charles in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to the community in Aberdour, Fife, where he worked as a station master.
But it has emerged that the award had been rescinded by Her Majesty.
In a notice published in the London Gazette, the official public record of awards and other notices, it stated: “The Queen has directed that the appointment of Trevor George Francis to be a Member of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, dated 15 June 2012, shall be cancelled and annulled and that his name shall be erased from the Register of the said Order.”
Francis’ community spirited facade hid the reality of the abuse he doled out to vulnerable kids in his care at the St Margaret’s children’s home in Elie, Fife, in the mid-1970s.
After his conviction a sheriff told him: “This was a gross breach of trust.”
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’ 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.
They proactively visited former residents of the home who told their stories of abuse at his hands.
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.”
Giving evidence in his own defence Francis said he was “relatively easy going” and claimed to have had a good relationship with the kids at the home.
In a bizarre exchange he said: “Come hell or high water they wanted me to watch Top of The Pops with them every week.
“It helped me relate to the kids and know about acts like Gary Glitter at the time.
“I suppose that’s the wrong name to use today though.”
He added: “Not in any situation would I have dreamt of doing what I’m accused of doing.
“It is totally inappropriate and totally wrong.
“But they say I did it.”
Francis, 71, of Manse Street, Aberdour, denied a total of nine charges on indictment.
However, 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.”
Francis was given the MBE in 2012 for his services to the community in Aberdour, Fife, where he was station master for more than 20 years.
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.
He had taken over at St Margaret’s from prolific paedophile David Murphy, who died in jail in 2001 after being jailed for a 30-year campaign of sexual and physical abuse at various homes.
Children in his care were subjected to an appalling regime of abuse. Some were forced to stand naked for hours, girls were spanked on their bare bottoms, boys were forced to shovel coal in their pyjamas. One practice, known as “shakey wakey”, involved boys being dragged from assembly and their heads slammed against walls.
Social workers, police and council officials to prevent Murphy from working with children again after the first allegations surfaced in the early 1970s.
Even when he was removed from one home he was allowed to continue looking after children as officials did not want to get involved.