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Birkhill man found guilty of rape at university

Duncan Burns at the High Court in Livingston.
Duncan Burns at the High Court in Livingston.

A Birkhill man has been convicted of rape.

Duncan Burns held a privileged position as an accommodation liaison officer at Stirling University and wore an official red t-shirt so vulnerable students could identify him if they needed help.

But a jury heard evidence that Burns was a sexual predator who forced himself on a young female student after arranging early morning meetings with her.

His victim, who was aged 20 at the time, said she he went back to her flat and “Googled the definition of rape”.

Speaking through tears, she said: “I always perceived rape to be more like with a stranger or with violence.

“I knew I’d said no and he knew I was saying no. I had no doubts in my mind, but don’t think at the time I knew it was rape.”

The jury heard evidence that the woman and a bisexual female who also had sex with Burns went to the police with almost identical stories about how he had abused them, physically, verbally and sexually before ultimately raping them.

However the jury returned a majority verdict finding the accused not guilty of raping the second woman – who is now in a lesbian relationship – on two separate occasions.

Giving evidence from behind a screen at the High Court at Livingston the woman he raped, now aged 22, told how Burns used his superior strength to have intercourse with her against her will.

She said she repeatedly told him ‘No’ and tried in vain to push him off.

She alleged that he raped her in one of the university’s halls of residence on 23 March 2016 after straddling her with one leg on either side of hers.

Burns, 24, of Rosemount Road, Birkhill, Angus, was originally charged with three counts of rape and six charges of assault.

He had lodged special defences claiming any sexual contact he had with the two females was with their consent.

The Crown withdrew the assault charges at the close of the prosecution’s evidence and he was acquitted of those charges.

Sentence was adjourned until November 29. Burns will have his name added to the sex offenders’ register as a result of his conviction.

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