A man who sexually abused two children – with one assault taking place in front of the victim’s mother – has avoided jail.
Charles Gowans sexually touched a boy under the age of 13 while on holiday at a resort in Spain.
The incident occurred in October 2016 and in front of the boy’s mother, who raised concerns about Gowans’ behaviour.
The 69-year-old also sexually abused a girl under the age of 13 at two addresses in Dundee.
A sheriff said there had been an element of “risk taking” in Gowans’ behaviour attacks, as the assaults on the boy and the girl had both occurred while there were other adults in the vicinity.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard Gowans had reacted with “indignation” when the accusations were initially put to him and he had denied committing any of the offences.
Gowans, 69, of Osborne Place, Dundee, denied charges under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act on summary complaint but was convicted after trial.
Solicitor advocate Jim Laverty, defending, said the sheriff had a “stark choice” between a prison sentence and a community-based order.
He said: “In my respectful submission, not withstanding the offences which your lordship found Mr Gowans guilty of, custody is not inevitable as far as he is concerned.
“He is a man of 69 years that has never come to the authorities’ attention before and leads a very pro-social existence.
“Whilst the natural, knee-jerk reaction of many would be that custody is inevitable in my respectful submission when one takes into account all of the factors and circumstances, custody is by no means inevitable.
“The appropriate disposals are robust. He’s a man with a significant work ethic.
“I do not mean to belittle the offences but your lordship will deal with more serious offences on summary complaint. It’s been a very traumatic experience for Mr Gowans but it has also been a traumatic experience for his family.”
Sheriff Derek Reekie imposed a community payback order with 300 hours unpaid work and a restriction of liberty order confining Gowans to his home address from 7pm till 7am daily for six months.
He also imposed three years supervision on Gowans and placed him on the sex offenders register for the same period.
The sheriff said: “I have spent a considerable amount of time contemplating the report and having heard evidence at trial.
“There is no doubt the offences I found you guilty of are serious, they are abhorrent and involve a significant breach of trust.
“There is also no doubt these offences meet the most serious consideration of a custodial sentence.
“Notwithstanding the nature of the offences, in my view having regard to the assessment of risk, you are assessed as being low-risk of reoffending, I am just persuaded there’s an appropriate alternative to custody.”