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Two more former pupils at Fort Augustus school give evidence at trial of Fr Seed

By SPP Reporter

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Sean Stone in evidence claimed he was beaten by Fr Seed.
Sean Stone in evidence claimed he was beaten by Fr Seed.

Michael Mungavin (50), a company director, told Inverness Sheriff Court yesterday how, aged 11 years, he and two other boys at the former Fort Augustus Abbey School had thrown a third into the outdoor swimming pool and the “victim” hit his head against the side of the pool.

Mungavin was giving evidence at 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 Mungavin said Fr Benedict was the supervising teacher at the swimming session and saw what happened.

“We were berated and told to go and get changed into our uniforms and wait outside Fr Benedict’s office,” said Mr Mungavin.

He said Fr Benedict went into his office and they were called in individually.

He said he was told to lean over the back of a chair with his hands on the seat to get caned.

“I had four strikes of the cane on my buttocks,” he said. “I had bruising and some pretty severe stripe marks that were there for a couple of weeks,”

Mr Mungavin said he was a member of Calder House and Fr Benedict was house master of Lovat House.

He said it was normal practice for a boy’s own house master to use thebelt or cane, but not another house master.

He said in his seven years at the school he had not come across a boy being punished other than by his own house master.

He described Fr Benedict as “explosive, quite short and impulsive”.

Regarding his punishment Mr Mungavin said: “It was pretty swift. There were not many words. It was in, cane and out.”

Angus tax inspector Sean Stone (52) said he had regularly been bullied by an older, bigger boy and one day retaliated, knocked him to the ground, and sat on top of him punching him.

He said he saw Bene, Fr Benedict’s nickname, among pupils, running towards him in his black cassock and when he reached him he was struck on the head by the teacher’s fist, had his head bounced off the ground and was dragged to the house master’s study with the aid of a senior pupil.

Mr Stone, who said he was probably 14 at the time, said Fr Benedict had another boy hold his wrists so he was face down across the desk and started caning him.

“I was stretched out across the desk face down and I was beaten with the cane many times,” he said. “I do not think this was a caning. It was a beating.”

He said he had cane marks on his buttocks which were bleeding and he had to lie on his stomach and was off school for two days because of the pain. He could not sit at a desk.

Asked by John Campbell, QC for Seed if it would be fair to say that corporal punishment was part of the “rough and tumble of school life”, Mr Stone responded: “Reasonable appropriate punishment yes. There is appropriate and inappropriate.”

The trial before Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood continues.

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