A former vice-principal of Hunterhouse Grammar School has been handed
down a probation order
after he admitted indecently
assaulting three female
Francis Noel Stroud (68), was sentenced to three years on probation.
He pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting the teenage students while working as a maths teacher at the school.
Stroud, of Sandymount Mews, Dunmurry, indecently touched the girls and kissed one on the lips.
He was told by a judge that he had committed a ‘serious breach of trust’. Belfast Crown Court heard that the offences came to light when Stroud was being interviewed by police in February 2011 for harassing a pupil he was privately tutoring by touching her leg and sending her “inappropriate” text messages.
He was convicted of harassing his 16-year-old victim in March 2014 at Craigavon Crown Court and handed down a two-year probation order.
A prosecution lawyer told a judge that during the course of police interviews Stroud told detectives he would not harass the girl “because of what happened to me at Hunterhouse” in 1997.
“That sparked police to make inquiries with the school and these three ladies which has now led to these charges,” the barrister told the court. Police inquiries revealed that between 1996 and 1997, three third-form pupils, all aged 14, had reported to a teacher at the school that Stroud, who at the time was vice-principal, had indecently touched them.
The girls said he had put his hand on their legs and in one instance he placed his hand on the leg of one of the students and “moved his hand up her inner thigh”.
On a further occasion, one of the pupils reported that he had “kissed her full on the lips”.
The court was told that the girls’ parents were informed and during meetings at the school it was decided not to involve the police so as to “protect the children and protect them from a criminal court case” and to deal with the matter internally instead.
“At the end of the school term, the accused was subject to disciplinary procedures and he was sacked for gross misconduct,” the lawyer told the court.
The court heard that Stroud took an unfair dismissal case to an industrial tribunal, but lost his action.
“He does display victim awareness and remorse. Mr Stroud is fully aware of the distress and harm he has caused,” the barrister said.
The judge said having considered the contents of the pre-sentence report, he had decided that the appropriate sentence would be a three-year probation order.
Stroud was placed on the sex offenders register for five years and was also made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years.