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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 15:21 GMT
Care home boss jailed over abuse
James Carragher
Carragher's attitude "defied belief", the court heard
The former principal of a Catholic-run care home has been jailed for 14 years for a catalogue of sex crimes against boys over a period of 20 years.

James Carragher, 64, was found guilty at Sheffield Crown Court of abusing boys at St William's Community Home in Market Weighton between 1969 and 1989.

Carragher, of Anlaby Road, Oxford, had been jailed in 1997 for abusing other boys at the same home.

The Catholic De La Salle Order say they have new measures to protect children.

'Depraved conduct'

Judge Simon Lawler QC said Carragher's attitude "defied belief" as he preyed on the vulnerable and lonely.

He said: "It is difficult to imagine the fear they must have suffered as well as the confusion and turmoil they went through in young adolescence.

"It is, I have to say, a quite appalling catalogue of depraved conduct falling into the worst category of child abuse."

A quite appalling catalogue of depraved conduct falling into the worst category of child abuse
Judge Simon Lawler QC

The court was told that Carragher, a repeat sex offender, had been known to the boys at the home as Brother James.

A devout Catholic, he groomed the youngsters for sex with treats and affection.

His victims were told to keep details of the attacks to themselves or face punishment, while others feared not being believed if they complained.

One victim was abused while he grieved over the death of a relative. Months later the same victim was targeted mourning the loss of a close friend.

Other abuse was reserved as "punishment" for boys who had absconded from the home.

In mitigation, Mark George described Carragher as a remorseful and broken man, but the judge said he had seen "little evidence of any emotion" from him during the trial.

When giving evidence Carragher described how he encouraged boys to keep in close contact with their family and took great care and consideration in choosing appropriate punishments for the boys when they misbehaved.

'Deep betrayal'

Brother Sean Sellors, a spokesman for the De La Salle Brothers, said Carragher had betrayed the order.

"We totally condemn, without reservation, any action or behaviour which harms young people," he said.

"During his trial James Carragher said that he was ashamed of what he had done and that he had failed to live up to what he professed.

"His behaviour has been a deep betrayal of the Order's mission to the young and to the trust that was placed in him as a De La Salle Brother.

"Our hearts go out to those who were victims of abuse and to their families in this case," he said.

Carragher was sentenced earlier this month but reporting restrictions were lifted after prosecutors decided to offer no evidence against three other defendants.

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