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No jail for Dundee art teacher guilty of sex attacks on pupil over two-year period

James Skelton Smith.
James Skelton Smith.

A Dundee art teacher dropped a pencil and forced a female pupil to pick it up so he could smack her on the bottom with a ruler.

James Skelton Smith, 59, then tried to hand the ruler to the girl in a bid to get her to do the same thing to him.

Dundee Sheriff Court was told Smith also deliberately brushed past the teenage girl so he could touch her during sex attacks covering a two-year period.

Yesterday, Smith was placed on the sex offenders register for three years and put under social work supervision for the same period.

Sheriff Alistair Carmichael also ordered him to attend the Moving Forward Making Changes sex offender rehab project.

Fiscal depute Michael Sweeney told the court: “The circumstances are that the accused was the complainer’s art teacher at the school.

“She recalled her time in the class with the accused and stated that on occasion he would brush past her with his hand making contact with her body.

“There was an occasion when she was in the art lesson being taught by the accused and the class was about to leave.

“The accused was standing near the door when he purposefully knocked a pencil from the worktop on to the floor. The accused requested that she picked it up.

“When she did so he struck her to the buttocks with a ruler. She described considerable force being used. The complainer was very embarrassed.”

The part-time teacher of expressive arts at the school in the Dundee area, admitted sexually assaulting the girl on several occasions.

The court was told Smith, who has since lost his job, had been jailed last year for a series of similar offences spanning several years.

Mr Norrie said: “He was convicted after trial at the end of last year. An eight-month sentence was imposed and he was placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years.

“That case was perhaps at a more serious level and also involved pupils at the school.”

The court was told the victim in yesterday’s case came forward after hearing about the previous conviction.

Sheriff Carmichael said: “At the time of this you did not have any previous convictions and I will deal with you today on that basis.”

Smith, from Dundee, was previously described as “abhorrent” when he was jailed after being found guilty in 2019 of a series of indecent and sexual assaults against pupils.

The offences took place over an 11-year period between 2008 and 2019 and the court heard he would regularly drop his pencil in order to crawl under desks in class.

In that case, Sheriff John Rafferty told Smith the assaults were carried out when he was in “a position of authority and trust”.

The sheriff said that Smith had shown “little or no remorse and understanding” of the impact on his victims.

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