Bid to keep abuser out of prison fails

Hamilton Sheriff Court heard abuse went on for more than five years.
Hamilton Sheriff Court heard abuse went on for more than five years.

A man who abused a young girl has been jailed for nearly four years despite his lawyer claiming prison might not be in the public interest.

James Rae first molested the youngster when she was just seven years old and continued to do so for more than five years. Incredibly, Hamilton Sheriff Court heard he couldn’t remember much about it.

Jailing him for three years and nine months, Sheriff Douglas Brown said the abuse has had a “significant and lasting effect” on the victim who suffers nightmares and has low self esteem.

Rae (64), of Rockburn Crescent, Bellshill, admitted using indecent behaviour towards the girl at addresses and woods in Viewpark, in Strathclyde Park and elsewhere between December 1979 and May 1985.

Allegations that he continued to abuse the girl between 1985 and 1998, when she was 26, were dropped.

Defence advocate Paul Nelson said what Rae had pleaded guilty to was “significantly less serious” than the initial charges.

He said: “Background reports state Mr Rae has a less than clear recollection of the events that form the substance of this charge, but he tells me he is disgusted by the person he was and he is now a totally different person.”

Mr Nelson said the guilty plea meant witnesses didn’t have to give evidence while the victim now had “closure” as Rae had accepted the allegations made by her.

Rae was thrown out of his home when the allegations came to light and his wife has said she wants nothing more to do with him.

Mr Nelson said his client expected jail and has resigned from his job, but he added: “We are dealing with offences which occurred between 1979 and 1985. We must ask whether the public interest is best served by locking up someone or by allowing that person to put something back into the community.”

The advocate suggested a non-custodial sentence could be imposed, but Sheriff Brown told Rae only a “substantial” jail stretch would do.

The sheriff said: “This abuse started when the girl was seven and not in a position to protect herself. It continued for a lengthy period.

“It has had a significant and lasting impact, and in 2015, long after the abuse ended, she was still struggling to cope and sought counselling.

“Her victim impact statement speaks of trauma, low self esteem, nervous anxiety, nightmares and difficulty in sleeping.”

Rae will also be on the sex offenders’ register for life.