Paul Anthony Carson


Paul Anthony Carson

I held Paul Anthony as his daddy cut him down…we just cradled him and cried for our boy. His pain was over.

From the link:…-a095184979

Paul Anthony Carson cowered in a phone box, shaking, crying and desperately begging his mother for help.

At 21 years old and over six feet tall, he was reduced to a sobbing wreck by the very sight of a man he had not had contact with for eight years.

That man was Martin Kerr, a paedophile who had subjected him to horrific abuse during the seven years his victim was an altar boy in West Belfast.

Seven months after that brief glimpse on Christmas Eve as Kerr enjoyed prison parole, Paul Anthony hanged himself. A long letter he had written days earlier explained why he just could not carry on.

“He’d tried to kill himself three times before,” his mother Jean, 45, explained. “He’d been a happy, talented boy with good friends and family, a part-time job and a great future.

“But 24 hours after Kerr was sentenced for abusing six wee boys in the parish, Paul Anthony tried to take his own life.

“Back then we really didn’t have a clue what was wrong with Paul Anthony. We were horrified by what he’d done to himself.

“But now we know what had happened to him and I hold Martin Kerr wholly responsible for my son’s suicide.”

Paul Anthony met Kerr through St Peter’s Cathedral in the Divis area and the cub scouts.

As a youngster he had travelled to England and the Republic with the sexton and other youngsters. He had even gone to Lourdes to help Kerr with the sick and disabled on retreat.

But Kerr was jailed for two years for the 18 incidents of sexual abuse he subjected Paul Anthony to while he was in Northern Ireland. He served just 11 months of the term and was released in May 1999.

Jean said: “In 1998 I heard that Martin Kerr had been accused of paedophelia and I was worried because he’d known my son.

“But Paul Anthony told me I’d nothing to worry about, that it was the other boys who’d been hurt.

“But the day after Kerr was sentenced, my husband Paul and I came home from holiday to find Paul Anthony had tried to hang himself.

“His sister Tamara had seen the silhouette in the bedroom window as she closed the gates. The suicide attempt was the clearest message we’d had, but still Paul Anthony denied anything had happened to him.

“The next day he saw a psychiatrist but we were told he’d had an argument with his girlfriend, but I knew it wasn’t as simple as that.”

Unknown to Jean, her son had made statements about his abuse to the police. When Kerr pleaded guilty, Paul Anthony was no longer required to give evidence in court, leaving his family clueless about his involvement in the case. Jean said: “Paul Anthony tried to protect us from the pain he was in. I was desperate to help him and I even went to Grosvenor Road police station and confronted them in an attempt to see his statement. But they said if he’d made a statement he would have to come with me and written permission before I could see it. It was useless.”

For months Jean, a hospital cleaner, battled to stop her son harming himself, unable to fully understand his pain.

But a month after his first suicide attempt, he tried again, this time he slit his wrists and collapsed in Jean’s arms crying for help.

HIS father Paul, 46 and sisters Susannah, 27, Tamara, 25, and three young brother’s Robert, 16, Sean, 12 and 11-year-old Colm, had all gone out to search for him.

Jean said: “Paul Anthony left work early. He’d been caught in the store with a length of rope. We searched everywhere for him. I stayed at home and was sitting on the stairs waiting for news when he walked him, slouched over, crying.

“He’d slit his wrists. As he walked towards me he held his arms out and said, ‘Mummy I’m sorry. I need help. I can’t cope. I’m not doing this to hurt anybody’.”

Jean spent endless hours pacing their West Belfast home to make sure Paul Anthony was never alone. She removed every door so he had nowhere private to hurt himself and all their ties and dressing gown belts were destroyed.

When he cried Jean cradled him, when he needed help and counselling she found it and when he overdosed in his third suicide attempt, she calmly resuscitated him.

Jean explained: “On August 31, 1998, he swallowed two handfuls of tablets and was in a coma for two-and-a-half days.

“I stayed with him the whole time begging him to wake up, praying he would come round so he could get the help he needed and have a life he deserved.

“When he finally regained consciousness the doctor said to him, ‘Paul Anthony you’ve tried this three times now, you must have some idea why you’re doing it.’

“And for the first time he admitted what was wrong. He said he’d been abused over a long period of time by Martin Kerr. Paul Anthony said he wanted to be with God because only God understood the pain he was in.

“As soon as he said the words I knew I’d lost him. I knew that his make-up wouldn’t enable him to cope with what he’d been through. My blood ran cold.” In desperate need of help, it was two days before he could get a bed in a psychiatric unit to be treated for post traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Jean said: “We just had to hold on. We brought him home, he didn’t have a moment to himself and he was with that.

“He spent several weeks in Knockbracken where he had a room to himself. He didn’t feel safe but he knew he needed the help they were giving him. Paul Anthony was terrified of being put in a dormitory because he’d been abused in a dorm before. He even placed an empty Lucozade bottle over his door handle so he would hear if anyone tried to get in.

“But in the end the staff had to allocate his room to an other patient and Paul Anthony had to come home.

“He continued to improve slowly and we were all looking forward to Christmas knowing he was safe. He was getting back to his old self and attending his counselling.”

But on Christmas Eve, Paul Anthony’s life fell apart again. While he was in a pet shop buying presents, he spotted his abuser a few feet away.

Jean explained: “He ran out of the shop to a phone box and called me. He was crouching on the floor trying to hide. He said, ‘Mummy come and help me. Martin Kerr’s here, I’m hiding from him.’

I told him Martin Kerr was in jail and couldn’t harm him. But it turned out that Kerr had been given Christmas parole and we hadn’t been told.”
SOMEHOW Paul Anthony gathered his strength and went back into the pet shop where he lunged at Kerr and tried to choke him but Kerr refused to press charges.

Jean said: “I wanted him to press charges. I wanted to scream his name from the rooftops, I wanted everyone to know what he’d done to my son.Christmas was ruined.

“But January 1999 was a turning point. I came home to find Paul Anthony had gone to soccer training. I could have cried with relief. I felt like I’d won the lottery. Things seemed to be getting back to normal.”

Kerr was due for release in May 1999 and Paul Anthony often mentioned his worries about seeing him in the street. He continued his counselling and in April promised his mother he would never try to take his own life.

But in the end there was nothing Jean or her husband Paul, a bin man, could to do to ease their son’s pain and on July 15, 1999 – just three months after his promise – Jean held her son’s lifeless body as his father cut him free from a noose.

She said: “Everything had seemed fine that night. Paul was playing a Sarah McLaughlin CD. I’d been lying in the next room for hours awake, listening to his music, trying to shake off a headache.

“By 4.40am I went to turn the music off thinking Paul Anthony was asleep. But as I tried to open the door it was jammed with a duvet. I knew he was dead. I whispered to my husband to come and help me.

“Colm and Sean were asleep in the same room. I held Paul Anthony and whispered to him as his daddy cut him down. We called for an ambulance, the police and a priest and we just cradled him and cried for our precious boy. His pain was over.

“We don’t know what triggered him that night and we’ll probably never know. But something happened on that Wednesday that made him unable to face Thursday.

“I hold Martin Kerr totally responsible for my son’s death. I want him to ask him what he has anything to say to me. I want him to explain why he gave my son a death sentence and the rest of us a life sentence of grief.

“I want to know a lot of things but I know that pervert has no answers.”


HEARTACHE: Jean Carson yesterday; TRAGIC: Paul Anthony Carson with his pet dog a short time before he hanged himself. Paul Anthony had been abused by church sexton Martin Kerr

No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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