TWO men who worked at a Stevenston school for troubled children have been found guilty of the horror abuse of almost 30 pupils.

Former art teacher Matthew George, 73, and care worker John Muldoon, 69, were convicted after a fresh probe into how youngsters were treated at Kerelaw residential school.

Jurors heard how physical and sexual attacks were "rife" with children too scared to report their ordeals at the time.

George, of Largs, was today convicted of a total of 39 charges involving 21 boys and girls.

Muldoon, of Irvine, was found guilty of 16 of the charges he faced. These listed nine children including the rape of two girls.

Two of the victims were abused by both.

The pair had previously been jailed in 2006 for abuse at Kerelaw.

George was locked up for 10 years and Muldoon two-and-a-half years.

But they were hauled back into the dock in 2017 amid new allegations.

This led to a two-month trial at the High Court in Glasgow, which saw jurors convict them again today.

The pair had been on bail but were remanded in custody as a judge warned them they face "significant" sentences in the New Year. 

The crimes occurred between 1975 and 2000.

George had been a teacher at Kerelaw for 29 years.

The school - run by Strathclyde Regional Council and then Glasgow City Council - closed in 2006.

Victims - with much of the evidence recorded and played before jurors - spoke of being abused by George there and at his home in Largs.

As well as horrific sexual abuse, the court heard of physical violence which included children being put down holes while also being punched and hit.

Putting allegations to George, prosecutor Paul Kearney KC said: "A picture of routine violence and it being ignored?"

George: "That is the picture some are painting."

Terrified victims were scared to complain as they feared "repercussions".

George - who also taught physical education - was described by one victim as the "leader of the boys".

Mr Kearney: "You would show off your karate moves."

George denied this.

Mr Kearney: "Evidence shows us that violence was rife and tolerated by staff."

George: "Violence was not rife - absolutely not the case."

Mr Kearney: "The evidence from (one witness who worked at Kerelaw) was that members of staff would line up boys in the gym hall and hit them with golf balls.

Mr Kearney: "If done in the open, even all the more blatant?"

George: "It did not happen."

The advocate depute: "A pretty clear sign things were rotten at Kerelaw?"

George: "It did not happen."

Mr Kearney: "The evidence from (one witness who worked at Kerelaw) was that members of staff would line up boys in the gym hall and hit them with golf balls.

"There was laughter about this and it was said: 'This is what we do'.

"She was uncomfortable, but that was the whole ethos of the place."

George: "I did not line up boys."

The court also heard how one boy was booted on the ankles as he recovered from breaking them weeks earlier.

Another was kept in the cells of the secure unit area of the school for more than a fortnight having been assaulted.

One boy was also battered with a mop handle and forced to eat soap.

George also denied on of his "methods" was to lure victims to his home - some who could vividly recall what it looked like.

But, the pervert claimed it was "common knowledge" where he stayed.

George was mainly convicted of indecent and physical assaults.

Muldoon - who worked in the secure unit - also put young victims through harrowing ordeals.

The sexual and physical violence he doled out included raping two teenage girls.

He also attacked one boy with a mallet and put a lit cigarette on one girl's arm.

A number of the victims in the case have since passed away before they could see justice being served.

After the verdicts, Mr Kearney said eight victims had written statements about their ordeals for judge Lady Drummond to read.

She went on to tell George and Muldoon: "You have been convicted of charges involving sexual and physical abuse on children in your care over decades.

"You will be sent to prison for a significant period of time."

Muldoon winked to relatives as he was led handcuffed to the cells. George waved to those with him.

They will be sentenced on January 13 in Livingston.

Senior Investigating Officer, DI Ross Black, Police Scotland, said: “Police Scotland would like to thank everyone who came forward to police during this investigation. Their engagement, bravery and commitment helped secure the verdict today.

“We hope that people can now be confident in coming forward to police knowing that no matter the passage of time, justice like today’s verdict has underpinned what can be achieved.

“Police Scotland is committed to identifying and bringing to justice those responsible for these crimes.

“We are, and will continue, to investigate all aspects of child abuse in these former residential care establishments, and I would urge anyone who may have experienced abuse at the school but not yet come forward to police to do so.”