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Paedophile Fife Scout leader jailed for plying teens with booze at camps and abusing them 

One of John Somerville's victims has welcomed his incarceration.

Predatory Scoutmaster John Somerville was jailed at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.
Predatory Scoutmaster John Somerville was jailed at Dunfermline Sheriff Court.

A Scout leader who plied teenage boys with alcohol and sexually abused them on camping trips has been jailed.

John Somerville, 57, previously pled guilty to indecently assaulting two 14-year-old boys and using lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour towards a 13-year-old.

Sheriff William Gilchrist jailed him for 45 months and placed him on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely.

One of his victims, now a 40-year-old man, said after the hearing he was “pleased” but had also been passed on a letter from Somerville, adding: “I am going to burn the letter he has given me”.

John Somerville. Image: Facebook.

Dunfermline Sheriff Court heard in March Somerville regularly fondled and performed sex acts on the man, then a boy, on camping trips and in his vehicle.

He incited him to touch his penis for a “dare” during one sick game.

On one camping trip the youngster tried to tell Somerville he was “going off the rails” due to the abuse but the dirty Scoutmaster’s response was to perform a sex act on him and tell him it was obvious he enjoyed it.

The abuse of this victim went on for two years.

Given ‘life sentence’

Before Wednesday’s court hearing, the man told The Courier he was first contacted by police in May 2020 but felt at the time it was too difficult to speak out.

Later that summer, he said he received a phone call from Somerville to say he was charged with a number of offences.

He said: “At that point he was phoning me to tell me this because he wanted me to be part of his defence”.

The man claimed Somerville alluded to the sexual abuse of someone else to suggest that what was done to him was not abuse.

He said weeks later he started going “off the rails” over the thought of having to lie for his abuser in court and it drove him to drink heavily and take time off work.

He said he recalled his experiences to detectives for about nine hours in October 2020.

Somerville abused his charges on camping trips. Image: Supplied.

On reflection, he believes Somerville groomed not only him but his parents.

Speaking about the lasting psychological impact, the man said he has been seeing a counsellor for the last two years, though is reducing the frequency of therapy, and has been on antidepressants.

He said he moved away from Fife many years ago and now has a good job but has found building friendships difficult

“He has basically given all these boys a life sentence.

“We have to live with this and as much as we can get on with our lives and put things behind, it still happened. You are still the victim.

“It does not go away and he will do court and jail time and will be back out in the community”.

He added: “He is a horrible man.

“People need to know the truth and it’s taken me a long time to be able to see that.”

Feeling of guilt

The man said that he travelled as far as Argentina with the Scouts for gatherings but recalled the abuse happening to him in smaller UK camps.

He said: “I still believe to this day he used me because I was accepting of the abuse.

“He used me to abuse others.

“It was ‘ok’ that things were happening to me and other young boys were seeing that and it was ok for them.

“That’s why I am seeing a counsellor just now, because I still can not get my head around that.

“No child instigates abuse. I am feeling a sense of guilt.”

Sick Somerville abused Scouts on camping trips. Image: Shutterstock.

Somerville’s offending against all three of his victims spanned a period between June 1996 and February 1999.

It is the second time he has been convicted for abusing Scouts.

In 2006, he was found guilty after trial of two charges involving two young boys in the early 2000s.

It involved using lewd, indecent and libidinous practices by offering them money to play sexually intimate games.

One of the offences took place at a Scout camp in the USA.

He failed in an appeal against this conviction.

Somerville, of Greenwell Park, Glenrothes was sentenced to 300 hours of community service for the crimes.

‘Abhorrent and predatory’

Somerville returned to the dock for sentencing this week over his latest convictions.

Defence lawyer Pete Robertson described his client’s conduct as “abhorrent and predatory” but said he had had sight of correspondence from his client which suggested he is “full of remorse”.

Mr Robertson said Somerville does not have a reason for his actions and accepts what he did was wrong and that he abused his position as Scout leader.

John Somerville. Image: Facebook.

The lawyer said Somerville, who is still listed as a director on his business JM Garden Services Ltd on Companies House, is regretful of the “longstanding pain and suffering caused to victims and their families and what he has stolen from their childhoods.

Mr Robertson referred to an apparent lack of remorse in a social work report and said his client suggested the social worker had been referring to other allegations during the interview.


Sheriff William Gilchrist highlighted Somerville’s use of alcohol to facilitate some offences and the “serious abuse of trust and degree of planning” involved and an “element of targeting vulnerable children”.

The sheriff said Somerville may be expressing remorse today but this was not clear from his social work report.

He jailed him for a total of 45 months, backdated to March 9, and made him subject to a supervised release order for a year.

He also placed him on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely, sparking approval from a number of people in the public gallery.

Police pledge

The conviction and sentence was also welcomed by Police Scotland.

A 57-year-old man has been jailed for non-recent sexual offences.John Somerville from Fife pled guilty to offences…

Posted by Police Scotland Fife on Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Detective Inspector Calum Lawrie said: “John Somerville abused a position of trust to carry out his abhorrent behaviour over a prolonged period of time.

“It is a good example of how time is no barrier to justice and he will now face the consequences of his own actions.

“All reports of sexual abuse, regardless of the time frame, will be thoroughly investigated by the Non-Recent Child Abuse Investigation Team.

“We were committed to supporting anyone who comes forward, while investigating thoroughly and robustly to bring offenders to justice.

“Should you wish to report a sexual crime to Police Scotland, please do so via 101”

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