A PERVERTED church elder who tied up and sexually abused children was hugged by his wife in court yesterday after he was spared a jail sentence.
Graeme Jackson, a Boys’ Brigade superintendent who also helped out at a church’s Sunday School, was convicted of abusing one child over several years by tying him up naked with ropes, pinning him to the ground and plying him with alcohol.
The 67-year-old sex fiend, who even volunteered with the ChildLine charity, also told two kids to lie naked in a bed together as he gave them sex education, Paisley Sheriff Court was told.
Jackson, from Houston, denied the accusations against him but a jury found him guilty of two out of three charges after a trial.
Instead of being locked up, he has been ordered to carry out community service.
A boy and a girl who were abused by Jackson in the 1980s but who cannot be named for legal reasons went to the police as adults two years ago to report the incidents, sparking enquiries which led to his prosecution.
Sentence had been deferred for background reports and risk and community service assessments to be prepared.
And, when Jackson returned to court yesterday to learn his fate, Sheriff Carol Kelly was told he posed a low risk of re-offending.
Sheriff Kelly also learned that Jackson, who served on the Children’s Panel, was still in complete denial and was unable to accept the verdict.
Jackson was convicted of using lewd and libidinous practices towards his victims between 1987 and 1988 and of involving the boy in a similar course of conduct on various occasions between 1983 and 1991 at his home in Houston.
Sheriff Kelly was told that Jackson’s wife and other members of his family were standing by him.
When the accused and his supporters discovered he was not being locked up, they hugged each other in court.
Jackson had been told that, due to the serious nature of the offences, he would be placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for three years – the same term as the probation order put in place to provide supervision and address issues raised by the court case and conviction.
Sheriff Kelly said she had to balance the serious nature of the charges, which involve sexual offences against young people, with the fact that Jackson was a first offender.
She also took into account the fact that the offences happened “a long time ago”.
After studying reports, as well as submissions from Jackson’s defence agent, Sheriff Kelly decided that custody could be avoided.
She stressed the sentence being handed out was “no easy option” and ordered Jackson to carry out 240 hours of community service.
Sheriff Kelly added that, in order to monitor progress and make sure Jackson was complying with the community service order, she would call him back to court for regular reviews.
The first of these reviews will take place on December 1.