Former school teacher inflicted 'sadist cruelty' onto young boys

John Brownlee repeatedly committed a number of violent assaults against children aged between eight and 11 years of age, spanning 31 charges.

Former Edinburgh school teacher John Brownlee inflicted ‘sadist cruelty’ onto young boys STV News

A former teacher at a private school in Edinburgh physically and emotionally abused children, a Sheriff has ruled.

John Brownlee inflicted “sadist cruelty” onto young boys at Edinburgh Academy over two decades from 1967 to 1991.

The 89-year-old was deemed medically unfit to be criminally tried and didn’t attend any hearings on the case.

An examination of facts was held at Edinburgh Sheriff Court where 42 former pupils, including broadcaster Nicky Campbell, gave evidence. Both the Crown and defence led evidence which was tested. 

The Sheriff ruled on Wednesday that Brownlee had repeatedly committed a number of violent assaults, against children aged between eight and 11 years of age, spanning 31 charges as well as ‘cruel and unnatural acts’ at the school.

Victims and witnesses described the habitual use of physical force and mental terror which they suffered throughout their time at school.

Brownlee was found to have assaulted some children with implements, such as a cricket bat, a snooker cue, a clacken, and a leather strap. He brutally and regularly attacked those in his care.

Boys were slapped, kicked or punched, some of whom were left unconscious as a result of attacks upon them.

Katrina Parkes, Scotland’s Procurator Fiscal for historic child abuse said: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) consistently and successfully strives to secure justice for those affected by historical abuse.

“Victims have been waiting lifetimes for recognition of the impact of abuse and have shared in their own words how childhood abuse has followed them throughout adulthood.”

“John Brownlee has been found to have committed acts of great cruelty, to have terrified those he was entrusted to nurture during his time as a teacher. It is now a matter of public record that such acts were committed by the accused.”

“The intimidation of and the use of force upon children, and the protection of those who inflict it, has no place in Scottish society. COPFS remain committed to investigating and pursuing those culpable to seek conclusions.”

Matt Forde, NSPCC Partnership and Development Director, said: “This a deeply troubling case.

“As a deputy headteacher and a housemaster, Brownlee should have been a supportive presence and positive role-model to these young boys, instead he subjected them to the most horrendous physical and psychological abuse, day and night.

“It is heartbreaking to hear the boys lived in such fear for so many years.

“These men have shown immense bravery in coming forward to give evidence, with their experiences underlining the deep harm that child abuse can cause and the profound and long-lasting impact it can have.

“This case highlights why it is so important that children are able to speak to a trusted adult about anything they are worried about, in the knowledge that they will be protected.”

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