Scottish Daily Mail
Former King’s horseman preyed on trainees at riding school
A FORMER King’s horseman has been jailed for raping teenage trainee instructors at a riding school.
James Christopher Armour was home on leave when he attacked three trainees – then aged 17 to 19 – who were living at the Dunvegan Equestrian Centre, at Newburgh, Fife, in the 1980s.
It was then run by his stepmother, Jane Armour, a highly regarded dressage judge and ‘trainer of trainers’.
Armour, now 57, served nine years as bombardier in the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, famous for its teams that pull guns on royal state occasions.
He represented Britain as an Army showjumper and continued eventing in civilian life, making the cover of Horse & Hound magazine in 2010. But the High Court in Stirling heard his victims carried ‘dark memories’ of what he had done and, in 2019, one of them saw a TV advert for charity Rape Crisis.
The woman contacted police, who launched Operation Cliftok to probe the abuse at the centre.
Now 57, she told the court that in 1983, Armour – whom she had never met before – walked into a stable as she worked, kicked her, shoved her against the wall and raped her.
Over the next two years, he went on to rape her frequently – including in her bedroom at the centre’s three-storey Dunvegan House.
She told how she was left feeling ‘sick’. She added: ‘I was just all the time.’ His second victim, now a farmer, 59, said she was at the centre in 1985 when she was woken by her bedroom floorboards squeaking.
Armour came in, put his hand over her mouth, told her to be silent, pulled the bedcovers back and raped her twice.
Explaining why she had not reported it at the time, she said: ‘I was scared. I was a naive young girl. It was the start of my career.’ Armour’s third victim was also raped in her Dunvegan House bedroom. She told the jury she had ‘shut it all down at the time’. She said: ‘I didn’t think for one moment I’d be believed.’
Armour had denied the attacks and claimed the women were ‘fantasists’. Jurors took three hours to find him guilty after a five-day trial.
He showed no emotion as the verdict was returned late on Thursday. Judge Lord Young deferred sentence until April 25.
He said: ‘Given the seriousness of these matters he will be remanded in custody.’
‘Victims carried dark memories’