A RETIRED stationmaster given an MBE for services to Aberdour has been jailed for nine months for child abuse.

Trevor Francis, 71, battered and sexually assaulted vulnerable kids in his care at a notorious children’s home in the 1970s.

He was included in the 2012 Queen's Birthday Honours for his services to Aberdour, including 21 years at the railway station which regularly won 'best in Scotland' awards for its floral displays.

Francis' abhorrent past did not catch up with him until a victim spoke out in 2014.

He was sentenced at Dundee Sheriff Court and Detective Chief Inspector John Anderson, of Fife’s Public Protection Unit, said: “Francis is a prolific offender who hid behind a mask of respectability in the Aberdour community.

“Thanks to the courage of his victims this veneer has been exposed and Francis has finally been held to account for his actions.

"I would like to thank the victims for their assistance to police during our investigation.

"They can now take comfort in knowing that their abuser will spend time within prison."

Before he was unveiled as a child abuser, Francis received the MBE from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 2012.

When he retired as stationmaster at Aberdour Railway Station in December 2014, a party was thrown in his honour and he told the Press: "There are not many places where a 70-year-old man can cross the street and have kids shout 'Hello!'

"I don't know them but they know who I am – which means I have to behave myself!"

Around that time, one of his victims came forward and his community spirited facade fell apart.

The reality was that he abused vulnerable kids in his care at the St Margaret's children's home in Elie in the mid-1970s.

Francis was found guilty by a jury in March.

During the trial, fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson said: "He is a manipulative, violent and predatory person who abused the trust of these vulnerable people who he was paid to protect.

"But instead he perpetrated physical and sexual abuse towards them and managed to stay undetected because of his Jekyll and Hyde personality."

Originally from Salisbury, Francis trained as an RAF engineer and later retrained as a nurse.

He took over as a manager at St Margaret's in 1973 after twisted paedophile David Murphy was forced out of a job at the home after allegations were made against him that were never followed up by police.

Murphy was finally jailed in 2002 for 15 years after admitting 14 charges of lewd and libidinous practices and behaviour and 16 charges of sodomy at St Margaret's and at another home.

Francis was part of a new regime at the home that should have removed the children from the threat of abuse.

But instead he subjected kids to brutal physical attacks and sickening sexual assaults.

Francis' name came up during the probe into Murphy in the late 90s but it was only when one victim came forward in 2014 that police were able to build a case against him.

Former residents told of abuse at his hands.

Three girls, aged 14 to 16 at the time, said Francis would creep into the girls' dormitory at night and sexually assault them.

Others told how he slapped them in the face and beat them with a slipper in violent rages.

Ms Robertson said: "The accused might seem mild mannered – an upstanding citizen, a family man.

"His wife was at pains to tell you that her Trevor would never have acted like that.

"We are dealing with an intelligent, manipulative man who can turn on and off that predatory, violent behaviour."

Francis told the court he was "relatively easy going" and claimed to have had a good relationship with the kids at the home.

In a bizarre exchange he said: "Come hell or high water they wanted me to watch Top of The Pops with them every week.

"It helped me relate to the kids and know about acts like Gary Glitter at the time.

"I suppose that's the wrong name to use today though."

He added: "Not in any situation would I have dreamed of doing what I'm accused of doing.

"It is totally inappropriate and totally wrong. But they say I did it."

The 71-year-old had denied nine charges but he was found guilty of two offences of using lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour towards young girls and three assaults.

One further lewd and libidinous charge and three assaults were found not proven.

Inspector Anderson added: "Police Scotland is committed to investigating any and all reports of abuse, regardless of when the crimes occurred.

"I would strongly urge victims who have not yet reported crimes against them to police, to do so immediately so we can bring those responsible to justice."