A TEACHER from Largs has been jailed for 16 years after a horrific catalogue of abuse of teenage victims at a council-run residential school.

Last month, the High Court in Glasgow heard how Matthew George, 73, and care worker John Muldoon, 69, carried out a sickening catalogue of physical and sexual abuse against 28 young victims over three decades.

It is the second time that Matthew George has been convicted of a similar crime.

Sentencing took place at Dundee High Court on Friday after a two month trial which found former art teacher George guilty of 39 offences while co-accused Muldoon, from Irvine, who worked in the school's secure unit, was found guilty of 16 crimes.

Lady Drummond told George: "These young people at Kerelaw were some of the most vulnerable in society and were there to be looked after. You took advantage of your role to groom and manipulate them. They were too frightened of you to speak out.

"The trauma they have suffered in your hands compounds the difficult start they had in life. Your behaviour destroyed their childhoods and had a devastating impact on their adult lives."

Twenty-one complainers provided 29 hours of video testimony over the course of the trial. Some victims spoke for more than three hours as they recounted their horrific experiences.

Six victims died before having the opportunity to see justice done, however prosecutors were able to utilise their prior police statements, which were read out in court.

The Crown also reviewed nearly 13,000 pieces of documentary evidence in preparation for trial.

Both George and Muldoon worked for many years at Kerelaw, a secure establishment for vulnerable and troubled youngsters.

Their offending continued until they were suspended from work a short time prior to the school’s closure in 2006.

Victims spoke of being preyed upon by George at the school and at his home in Largs.

As well as disturbing sexual abuse, the court heard of physical violence which included children being put down holes while being punched and hit.

George's methods included attacking children with golf balls and mops handles. His offences involved 21 boys and girls over his 29 years at the establishment.

The pair had previously been jailed in 2006 for abuse at the school, with George locked up for 10 years and Muldoon for two-and-a-half. But they returned to the dock amid these fresh allegations.

Fraser Gibson, Scotland's Procurator Fiscal for High Court Sexual Offences, says the case demonstrated the Crown's commitment to ensuring victims are always heard.

He said: "The accused were in positions of trust for many years. They abused that over and again.

"The victims bravely came forward to tell what happened to them in their childhood within a school environment where they should have been safe.

"They endured traumatising experienced which damaged their adult lives..

"Our skilled prosecutors were able to use special measures for these vulnerable witnesses to ease as much as possible the process of giving evidence.

"At COPFS we are determine to use every tool at our disposal in the pursuit of justice and to support victims through the system in every way we can."

An NSPCC Scotland spokesperson said: "As a teacher and a care worker at Kerelaw Residential School, George and Muldoon's were to nurture and protect the residents yet they exploited their positions of trust to physically and sexually abuse these young people inflicting immense suffering.

"The men and women, who were victims in this case, have lived with this cruelty for decades and it is testament to the courage of those who bravely spoke out that these two men have faced justice for these crimes.

"Child sexual and physical abuse can have a devastating and long-lasting effect, and we hope that the victims are receiving the support they need and can go forward with their lives.

"It is so important that those who have experienced abuse are empowered to speak out regardless of who the perpetrator is or how many years have passed."