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Father Seed of Brora on trial denying eight charges of physical assault against schoolboys

By SPP Reporter

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Father Benedict Seed.
Father Benedict Seed.

A WEALTHY businessman has told a jury how he was “haunted and hunted” in his dreams following punishments handed out by his housemaster at the former Fort Augustus Abbey School.

Hong Kong-based merchant Paul Curran was giving evidence on the first day of the trial of 83-year-old Thomas Seed, who was known as Father Benedict, and who was in charge of Lovat House at the fee-paying Catholic boarding school in the 1970s and 1980s.

Seed, of North Brora Muir, Brora, faces eight charges of physically assaulting boys at the school over a 14-year period between June 1974 and July 1988.

The former chemistry teacher, who was latterly headmaster, denies the charges.

Mr Curran (50) contacted the former Northern Constabulary after paedophile allegations were made against two other staff members at the school. He said he had wanted to give a character reference for one of the men but later told police of his own experiences and punishment at the school.

He told the court how he had been in his dormitory when another pupil started annoying him by grabbing the book he was reading and running off with it.

He said he had sworn at the other boy and this had been heard by Fr Benedict, who came to his cubicle and asked if anything had happened.

“I said no, nothing happened,” Mr Curran told the court. “He worked himself into a rage and said I had no right to be using that kind of language. He then dragged me from my bed. He dragged me by the hair and back of the neck downstairs into his study. He said he was going to belt me.”

Mr Curran described how belting at the Abbey School was a common occurrence and you got either “twice three or twice six” strokes of the belt on each hand, depending on the severity of the offence.

He said he received six strokes on his right hand and probably more on his left because he tried to pull his hand away to avoid the blows.

“He said if I continued to pull my hand away he would get the head prefect to hold me down over the desk while he caned me,” said Mr Curran.

“To my mind this was not a warranted punishment. This was being carried out in a physical rage. He was extremely angry when he was doing this. He was impacting with the skin on my wrist which was weeping, cut and bleeding. I think the punishment was totally unfair and completely unwarranted.”

Asked by procurator fiscal Roderick Urquhart if he had suffered any long-term effects as a result of the punishment, Mr Curran said he had not.

He continued: “To be honest, I lived in fear of this man when I was at school. I remember feeling haunted by this man in my dreams. I remember being hunted by this man in my dreams.”

The businessman added he was not making the allegations with a view to making a claim against the Benedictine order which ran the Abbey School.

The trial, before Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood, continues.

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