An elderly sex offender who admitted a child abuse charge dating back more than 50 years was today spared jail.
Ewen Laird, 81, was in his 20s when the attacks on a boy aged between nine and 13 took place at an address in Forfar, Angus.
But he wasn’t reported to police for decades until his victim – then aged 60 – confronted him about the abuse over the phone.
The victim only spoke up after telling Laird he should go to police to confess his crimes.
When Laird failed to do so he came forward and brought the attacks to light.
A sheriff told Laird that for a “contemporaneous offence” he would normally face a prison sentence – but the 50-year passage of time and his lack of any other criminal record meant he would walk free.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard that on various occasions Laird took advantage of the boy – carrying out sex acts on the youngster over the course of five years.
Fiscal depute Charmaine Gilmartin told the court that eventually, when the lad knew Laird was coming to visit the victim’s family in Forfar, he would take steps to avoid him and staying overnight at friends whenever he could.
Mrs Gilmartin said: “The complainer knew it was wrong and tried to stop it happening.
“He never spoke about the abuse.”
But eventually in June 2014 he confronted Laird by phone.
The fiscal said the complainer told the accused he should go to the police and admit the offence but he failed to do so and eventually the complainer reported it to the police that year.
However, he did not make an official complaint as he was afraid of the effect on his family.
He later went to Forfar Police Station to report the matter and the accused was arrested at his home.
Laird, 81, of Mauchline Road, Kilmarnock, pleaded guilty on indictment to a charge of using lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour towards the child, who was aged between nine and 13, on various occasions between June 5, 1963 and June 4, 1968, at a house in Forfar.
Sheriff Alastair Carmichael imposed a community payback order with three year’s supervision, conduct and programme requirements and placed Laird on the sex offender’s register for three years.
He said: “These were contact offences and I’d normally be looking at a custodial sentence for a contemporaneous offence in the region of 18 months.
“You are now 81 and it is in excess of 50 years since these offences took place.
“You have no previous convictions.
“The length of time that has passed between them and today and your lack of convictions in the meantime allow me to go down a non custodial route.”