May 24 2012 Blairgowrie Adv
A FORMER scoutmaster who admitted sexually abusing boys in the late 1960s and early 1970s was fined £32,000 and ordered to pay his victims thousands of pounds in compensation.
David McDonald was given a year to pay the sums, totalling £48,000, when he appeared for sentencing at Perth Sheriff Court on Thursday.
Sheriff Lindsay Foulis said he had opted for the monetary penalties not because of McDonald’s ability to pay, but because of his age and physical condition.
And, the sheriff added, McDonald’s inability to recall the crimes meant he felt there would be little connection now between a jail term and his wrongdoing.
Now retired and walking with the aid of a stick, McDonald (78) supplied cheques for the compensation orders to the court.
McDonald, of Abbey Road, Coupar Angus, admitted sexually assaulting the boys who were all scouts at the time and were aged from 11 to 15.
The court previously heard that the offences took place, often at remote rural locations, between 1968 and 1971.
The incidents only came to light after one of the victims confided in his wife what had happened four decades ago.
The sheriff told him: “There is no doubt at the time of the offences you knew what you were doing was a crime.
“These offences are serious, they involved the abuse of three teenage boys entrusted to you as a scoutmaster in the 60s and 70s.”
He said the parents of the youngsters would have looked to him as someone who could teach their children skills and to benefit from the “camaraderie” of the scouts.
“You abused that trust,” he said.
“No doubt the complainants felt powerless. All have been affected by your actions.”
The sheriff also hit out at the repetition of the type of offences perpetrated by McDonald.
The sheriff told McDonald he’d weighed up the factors surrounding a jail sentence or opting for financial penalties, choosing the fines and compensation including because of McDonald’s age and health.
The sheriff continued: “I want this to be made clear – this is not a person with means avoiding a prison sentence.”
Perth Sheriff Court previously heard that one of the victims “felt he had no alternative but to leave the scouts, but felt unable to tell anyone at that stage”.
McDonald admitted sexually assaulting the three boys – one during a scout trip at Glen Lyon, near Aberfeldy, and another in a vehicle in Coupar Angus.
The third youngster was assaulted in the scout hut in Bogside Road, Coupar Angus, in a tent at Tullybaccart and at an unknown location in Glen Truim, Newtonmore.
McDonald had been a scoutmaster in Coupar Angus for 41 years and the offences took place while he was in charge of the local troop or its assistant.
When the offences came to light, he was still involved with a committee linked to the scout movement but when police investigations began he was suspended.
Solicitor Rosie Scott said that police investigations into McDonald’s crimes had concluded there were only three victims.
“These are historical offences,” she said.
“The police spoke to anyone who had been in the scout troop at the time and are satisfied there is no one else.”
Making reference to a background report on McDonald, she said: “The reports suggest he might not have accepted the gravity of the situation or details of the victim statement of the complainer.
“He is fully aware of what the complainer was upset about, although he has very little recollection of the offences.”
McDonald was also made subject to the requirements of sexual offences legislation.