A FORMER partner of one of the victims of abuse at a notorious and now defunct North Ayrshire school has told how the trauma destroyed their relationship and ultimately led to his untimely death.

Speaking exclusively to the Times, the woman - who did not wish to be named - described the heartache and mental scars experienced by her late ex after he endured four torturous years at Kerelaw residential school in Stevenston from the late 1970s to the early 1980s.

Between the ages of 14 and 18, the then-teenager - originally from Drumchapel - suffered sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the hands of art teacher Matthew George who, along with care worker John Muldoon, was convicted of dozens of charges last week following a two-month trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The sadistic pair were previously jailed in 2006 for similar offences involving young boys and girls at the school, and they were warned on Friday that they face being "sent to prison for a significant period of time" when they are sentenced early next year.

Our source said she was with her ex for 25 years but they separated around a decade ago as she could no longer cope with the pressures of the relationship.

He testified as a witness during the previous court case but his life went "downhill" after that, and the abuse victim died in 2020 after years of alcohol addiction which he used to try to "blot out" his painful memories.

READ MORE: Two men found guilty of sexually abusing pupils at Kerelaw residential school

The woman told the Times: "My ex partner was murdered before his life could begin.

"He was a lovely person and what happened to him killed him.

"I'm gutted that he's not here to hear that [George and Muldoon will get lengthy prison sentences].

"I would give anything for him to know they're going to get lengthy sentences for what they've done, not just to him but to so many other people as well. All the people that have taken their lives because of it.

"What they've done to so many people; they took their lives away before they had a chance."

The court heard that routine violence was "rife" at Kerelaw and "tolerated by staff", who inflicted regular assaults and attacks on young people under their supervision.

Incidents included golf balls being fired against youngsters who were lined up against a wall, children being put down holes while also being punched and hit, and one boy being battered with a mop handle and forced to eat soap.

At the conclusion of last week's trial, George was mainly found guilty of indecent and physical assaults, while Muldoon was convicted of raping two teenage girls among other offences.

READ MORE: Former Ayrshire residential schools to be examined in child abuse inquiry case study

The latter 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.

Our source said she hopes the outcome encourages more people to come forward and share their experiences - even if it has come just too late for her former partner after he passed away in his 50s.

She said: "He told me he never spoke to anyone else in the home about what was happening to him.

"I don't know if he thought he was the only person that was getting sexually abused.

"If he was still here this might have helped him realise it wasn't just him.

"My regret is that he isn't here to see this and hear this, it might have made a big difference to his life. It's just terrible.

"These kids were put in their trust to be nurtured and cared for and loved and none of them got that.

"They got nothing but abuse.

"What chance did they have?"