A “sleazy” long-distance lorry driver has been jailed for sexually assaulting two women in separate hot tub attacks.
Stephen Espie, 49, claimed he was drunk at the time of the indecent assaults and claimed his victims – who he said were his friends – had been “flirtatious” with him.
The trucker appeared for sentence at Livingston Sheriff Court after earlier pleading to sexually assaulting a 21-year-old woman at an address in Dunfermline between January 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020.
Espie, from South Queensferry, Edinburgh, also pled guilty to sexually assaulting a 46-year-old female woman by touching her on the leg, rubbing her inner thigh and attempting to touch her vagina at an address in Livingston, West Lothian, on May 30 or 31, 2020.
Iain Smith, defending, said his client had stopped groping the younger woman when she told him to stop and claimed she had continued to flirt with him, sitting on his knee and trying to kiss him.
He said: “He accepts it was sleazy and wrong and he is very ashamed and very remorseful.
“He describes himself as a ‘dirty old bugger’ doing what he did.”
Passing sentence, Sheriff Douglas Kinloch told Espie: “I don’t know whether it was by accident or design but in the first half of 2019 you found yourself alone in a hot tub late at night with the complainer.
“You took advantage of her in that situation and sexually assaulted her in a serious, invasive and no doubt distressing manner.
“You put forward a background of alleged flirtatious behaviour on the part of the complainer but whatever the background this sexual assault was by definition without her consent and without you having believed that she was consenting.
“Then, about a year later in a very similar situation, you sexually assaulted another woman although admittedly the assault was less serious.”
He went on: “The charges to which you have pled guilty are serious and I can only impose a prison sentence if there is no other way of dealing with these charges.
“After considerable and anxious consideration I have come to the conclusion that – even allowing for all the mitigating circumstances put forward on your behalf – these two offences must be dealt with by a sentence of imprisonment.”
The sheriff said the appropriate sentence would have been 18 months but he would reduce that to 14 months to take account of the accused’s early plea of guilty.
He told Espie his name would remain on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.
Also, Scottish Ministers have been informed of his convictions under protection of vulnerable groups legislation.