Child abuse suspect went back to live with alleged victim’s mum

Court heard James Smith defied strict bail conditions.
Court heard James Smith defied strict bail conditions.

A man jailed for child abuse had been flagrantly ignoring a court bail order by living in the same house as one of his victims while awaiting trial.

James Smith (32) got three years at Hamilton Sheriff Court earlier this year.

Now he faces more time behind bars after he admitted breaching bail conditions and failing to attend a police station to sign on the sex offenders’ register.

The court heard he had been welcomed back into her Motherwell home by the mother of a young girl he was accused of abusing. He had been ordered to cut off contact with the family.

Smith used website Plenty of Fish to track down vulnerable single mothers before starting relationships with them.

He used different identities, including Steven Smith and Richard Noble, as a front to access children, whom he later subjected to sexual assaults - including three attacks on a five-year-old girl outside her primary school.

Smith (32) arranged to meet one woman in Falkirk 2012. Almost immediately he began a relationship with her and later subjected her four-year-old son to a sex attack.

The boy later told his father Smith had assaulted him and police were called. Smith was arrested and bailed on condition that he stayed away from children.

However, he started another relationship in 2014 with a woman from Motherwell and abused her daughter.

Prosecutor Lauren McRobert told the court today that Smith went back to live with this woman and her children in Motherwell after being charged with the abuse early last year. This was despite bail conditions not to have contact with them or any unsupervised contact with chidren under 16.

The fact he was ignoring those conditions came to light only when he was found guilty of the child abuse in February this year. At that point he was again given bail ahead of sentence and told to report to a police station within three days to sign on the sex offenders’ register.

When he didn’t turn up police went to his mother’s house in Glasgow where he was supposed to be staying, but he wasn’t there.

It then emerged he was living with the mother of one of his victims. She had moved from Motherwell to Wishaw.

Smith claimed he was living there alone, but police saw two child-size beds had clearly been slept in while children’s clothing and toys were scattered on the bedroom floor.

The woman’s sister confirmed to officers that the woman and her children had been living with Smith.

The woman had explained to her sister that the sex abuse charges had been dropped.

Sheriff Vincent Smith deferred sentence until May 25 for background reports and a risk assessment.