Bathgate sex attacker who targeted schoolgirls avoids prison sentence
A teenage sex offender who preyed upon underage girls has been spared a stretch behind bars.
Steven Shields, 18, sexually assaulted two girls, aged 14 and 15, and had intercourse with a third when she was underage.
He also breached a court bail order prohibiting him from having unsupervised contact with children under 16.
Shields was given a community payback order with three years supervision and ordered to carry out 250 hours unpaid work in a year, when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh for sentencing after earlier admitting the offences.
A judge pointed out that at the time of the offences in 2017 and last year Shields was aged 16 and 17.
Lady Carmichael said that Shields had spent eight months in a young offenders’ institution which was broadly equivalent to a 16 month sentence.
The judge added: “That represents a significant punishment for a young person.”
Lady Carmichael said she was satisfied that she could deal with the teenager by imposing a community payback order and a restriction of liberty order involving a curfew requiring him to be at his address between 8 pm and 7 am.
She also made Shields subject to a conduct requirement preventing him approaching or communicating with underage children without the approval of his supervising officer.
The judge told him that if he breached the requirements it would be reported back to her.
She warned him: “If you breach them without reasonable excuse I will have to consider how to deal with that and there will be a variety of options open to me, including a custodial sentence.”
Lady Carmichael also told Shields: “I will be keeping a very close eye on your progress.”
Shields, who had been held in Polmont Young Offenders’ Institution, first struck in October 2017 when he assaulted a 15-year-old in a field at West Calder, in West Lothian, and molested her and seized her by the wrist.
Two months later he attacked a 14-year-old girl at an address in Bathgate, in West Lothian, and touched her and exposed himself.
In May last year he had sex with a 15 year old girl at locations in Livingston.
The court heard that Shields had walked one of the girls to school.
Defence solicitor advocate Ewen Roy said Shields had expressed remorse for his offending.
He said Shields had “a traumatic childhood” but has benefited from “a lengthy period of sobriety” when held on remand.
He told the judge that Shields would co-operate with any requirements that the court considered appropriate.