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Four men accused of offences against children at Fife school acquitted at High Court

Edinburgh High Court building
The trial started last month at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Four men have been acquitted of committing a string of physical and sexual offences against 34 pupils who attended a school in Fife.

The trial of Philip Barton, 66, Angus Munn, 58, Ian Nutman, 63, and Robert De Koning, 68, began on February 25.

The group stood trial on a total of 62 charges at the High Court in Edinburgh.

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

In one of the charges brought by the Crown, the prosecution claimed 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 girl was said to have been 12-years-old when the alleged abuse took place, in the 1980s.

In another charge, Nutman was said to have physically assaulted the girl to “the danger of her life”.

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

‘Danger of life’ charge

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

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

He was accused of causing his breathing “to be restricted… to the danger of his life”.

Lawyers representing the quartet entered not guilty pleas at the start of proceedings.

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

Nutman was acquitted during the month-long trial.

Barton, Munn and De Koning were acquitted of the charges on Tuesday after jurors spent four days deliberating.

After jurors returned their verdicts, Lord Arthurson told the remaining three accused  they were free to leave the dock.

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