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Four on trial for historical abuse of children at Fife school

Edinburgh High Court

A group of men have gone on trial accused of committing a string of physical and sexual offences over nearly a quarter of a century against 34 pupils who attended a school in Fife.

Philip Barton, 66, Angus Munn, 58, Ian Nutman,63, and Robert De Koning, 68, entered not guilty pleas to a total of 62 charges across a near-24-year period.

Prosecutors claim the men committed offences at a school in Fife – which cannot be named for legal reasons – between June 18, 1982 and March 23, 2006.

A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh heard the contents of a legal document detailing the charges during the first day of proceedings.

Allegations of assaulting girls

One of the charges claims Barton, of Burntisland, and Nutman, of Kirkcaldy, used “lewd, indecent and libidinous practices” on “various occasions” towards a girl by watching her when she was naked in a communal shower and bathroom.

The alleged offence took place between June 1982 and November 7, 1985.

The girl is said to have been 12-years-old when the alleged abuse took place.

In another charge, Nutman is said to have physically assaulted the girl on an occasion between June 18, 1982 and November 1985.

Prosecutors claim Nutman seized her by her clothing and caused her breathing to “be restricted” before causing her to fall to the ground and dragging her along the ground.

The Crown claims Nutman assaulted the girl to “the danger of her life.”

Charged with assaulting boys

In another charge De Koning, of Glenrothes, is said to have sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy on various occasions between November 26, 1999 and November 25, 2000.

On an occasion between September 1, 1998 and May 20, 1999, Munn, of Burntisland, is said to have seized a boy by his body before forcing him to the ground and lying on top of him.

Munn is accused of causing his breathing “to be restricted… to the danger of his life”.

Prosecutors say the youth was aged 15 at the time of the alleged assault.

Lawyers representing the quartet have entered not guilty pleas.

Lawyers for Barton have lodged special defences of self defence in relation to a number of the charges.

Judge Lord Arthurson told jurors the trial is expected to last 10 weeks.

The case continues on Monday.

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