Prison sen­tence for at­tack on seven-year-old girl

West Lothian Courier - - Front Page - Court re­porter

A sex beast has been jailed for the “hor­rific” abuse of a seven-year-old girl more than 27 years ago.

Peter Burns (51) was sup­posed to be car­ing for the young­ster when he groped her and rubbed his naked body against hers, a court heard.

He was sen­tenced last week to 14 months and two weeks in prison, dis­counted from an 18-month sen­tence be­cause he pled guilty be­fore he was due to stand trial.

Pass­ing sen­tence at Liv­ingston Sher­iff Court, Sher­iff Martin Ed­ing­ton told Burns his name would re­main on the sex of­fend­ers’ regis­ter for 10 years.

The pae­dophile, whose ad­dress was given as Gowan­bank, Lady­well, was al­ready on a two- year com­mu­nity pay­back or­der af­ter be­ing con­victed last year of pos­sess­ing in­de­cent im­ages of chil­dren in 2015.

He later pled guilty on in­dict­ment to us­ing lewd, in­de­cent and li­bidi­nous prac­tices and be­hav­iour to­wards the pri­mary school girl.

The of­fence took place on or about Jan­uary 16, 1991 at an ad­dress in West Loth­ian.

Jim Robert­son, pros­e­cut­ing,

said the girl kept the mat­ter se­cret un­til rel­a­tively re­cently when she di­vulged to her mother that she had been abused.

It was on Au­gust 9, 2016, that po­lice were first in­formed and she made a com­plaint about be­ing sex­u­ally abused by the ac­cused.

Burns later made ad­mis­sions to po­lice to ex­actly the charge which he ad­mit­ted in court.

Jail­ing him, Sher­iff Ed­ing­ton said: “This is an hor­rific of­fence in­volv­ing as it does the abuse of a sev­enyear-old girl when you were in a po­si­tion of trust and re­spon­si­bil­ity for her.

“It turns out this was not your first sex of­fence be­cause you ap­peared be­fore a chil­dren’s hear­ing when you were 15 and, of course, last year you were placed on a two-year com­mu­nity pay­back or­der.

“While that con­vic­tion post-dates this of­fence you ap­pear to have a his­tory show­ing a propen­sity for sex­ual of­fend­ing against chil­dren.”

He added: “On the plus side you ac­cept – how­ever re­luc­tantly – that you do have a sex­ual in­ter­est in young chil­dren and you are aware your be­hav­iour was wrong.

“I ac­cept there may not have been much plan­ning and that you were a vic­tim of sex­ual abuse as well.

“How­ever, on the mi­nus side, you have a lim­ited un­der­stand­ing of the im­pact on your vic­tim and she has made clear in her vic­tim im­pact state­ment the ef­fect it has had on her.”

He said Burns had been as­sessed as be­ing at high risk of sex­ual re­of­fend­ing and he had come to the con­clu­sion that his crime was so se­ri­ous that only a cus­to­dial sen­tence was ap­pro­pri­ate.

He said he had con­sid­ered an ex­tended sen­tence with post re­lease su­per­vi­sion but had come to the con­clu­sion that the com­mu­nity pay­back or­der, due to run un­til Septem­ber 2018, could be ex­tended to keep him un­der so­cial work su­per­vi­sion.

The vic­tim and her fam­ily, who can’t be iden­ti­fied for le­gal rea­sons, left the court in tears as Burns was led away to be­gin his sen­tence.

Out­side she crit­i­cised the sen­tence as not be­ing harsh enough for him. “It wasn’t as much as he de­served,” she said.

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