A SEX predator who used the lure of his ice-cream van to abuse young boys has been jailed for seven years.
Billy McGill recruited schoolchildren as “helpers” on his rounds in West Lothian and convinced some of them to stay the night with him.
Youngsters were encouraged to sleep over at his caravan with the enticement of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.
McGill plied four out of his five victims with drink before carrying out a catalogue of sex abuse. His victims were aged between nine and 14-years-old.
The 51-year-old was convicted of a total of eight charges dating back to 1988.
At the High Court in Edinburgh today, judge Lady Scott told McGill: “The nature of these offences and the degree of planning and the gross breach of trust involved suggests you pose a serious risk to boys and young men.”
McGill, of Kirk Brae, Longridge, West Lothian, had denied the offences, claiming he was the victim of an internet smear by a rival seller.
His trial heard how police ordered accusers to stop posting messages about him on social networking site Facebook and warned McGill for his safety, but weeks later arrested him.
Defence QC Mark Stewart said McGill, who has learning difficulties and suffers depression, had contemplated suicide since the guilty verdicts.
The trial heard how children who came to work for the family ice cream business were encouraged to sleep over at his caravan in Lanarkshire.
He also operated from an industrial estate at Addiewell, West Lothian, and had a caravan there.
One 37-year-old man, who cannot be identified, told the trial how he had just started secondary school when he helped McGill for about six weeks and was persuaded to sleep over.
The victim said: “He said it would be better for us to get up early in the morning to go to a cash and carry in Wishaw.”
The man said he was terrified to leave the room because large German Shepherd dogs were prowling outside while McGill produced a half bottle of vodka. The victim said: “The next thing I knew, my trousers were down and he was performing oral sex.”
The man added: “I tried to kill myself when I was 15-years-old because of this.”
The jury unanimously convicted McGill of six sex offences and found him guilty of another two by majority verdicts.
McGill’s name was added to the sex offenders’ register for life and Lady Scott made an order keeping him under strict supervision for three years after the end of his prison term.