A TAXI driver who took sexual advantage of a disabled teenager failed to turn up for court because he believed he was in danger of attack.
Jeffrey Richardson, 46, claimed through his lawyer that he feared for his safety because he had received threats over the case.
Defence solicitor Andy Aitken said Richardson had moved house from Whitburn, West Lothian, to an address in Edinburgh out of fear.
Instead of attending Livingston Sheriff Court for sentencing, he had visited St Leonard’s police station in Edinburgh to make a report about alleged threats he had received.
The solicitor claimed that the fact there had been no social work report prepared for sentencing was not the fault of his client.
He told the court: “I got a phone call from a member of staff where he’s staying reporting that he’s confused and fearful because he’s received threats as a result of these charges.
“In the circumstances I’d ask that sentence be further deferred. If arrangements have to be put in place to bring him to court that can be done.
“There is some fear for his safety.”
Richardson, 46, earlier pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the teenager last Halloween.
He was seen by two men driving past in a van who saw him kissing the girl in the taxi, which was parked in a lane.
They were sufficiently concerned to raise the alarm by contacting police.
The court heard how Richardson was supposed to have been driving the disabled 16-year-old directly from her home to a special school.
But part way through the journey he parked his taxi in Uphall, West Lothian, and sent the girl’s escort to buy a bottle of water at a nearby shop.
He took advantage of his time alone with the youngster to sexually assault her by kissing her on the lips on October 31.
Graham Fraser, prosecuting, said the teenager was severely disabled and incapable of consenting to any sexual contact.
Richardson, of Loch Trool Way, Whitburn, West Lothian, pleaded not guilty to a second charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The Crown accepted his denial that he falsely asked the girl’s carer to say she had been in his minicab at the time of the incident.
The court was told that Richardson had mental health problems and a heart condition.
Outside court, a relative of Richardson’s victim branded him a “lying scumbag”.
“He’s not received any threats and he only moved to Edinburgh a week ago,” they said.
Sheriff Peter Hammond adjourned the case until August 1 for Richardson’s personal appearance and the reports previously called for.