Dalkeith man jailed for repeated abuse of underage schoolgirl

Bruce Henderson (inset) appeared at Livingston Sheriff Court. Main picture: TSPL
Bruce Henderson (inset) appeared at Livingston Sheriff Court. Main picture: TSPL

A Dalkeith man was jailed today for the repeated sexual abuse of an underage schoolgirl in West Lothian.

Bruce Henderson, 53, was caught abusing the youngster by her mum after she returned home unexpectedly and found her daughter in his bed.

Bruce Henderson was caught abusing the youngster when her mother returned home unexpectedly.

Bruce Henderson was caught abusing the youngster when her mother returned home unexpectedly.

Henderson was today sentenced to three years in prison for the sexual assaults.

The girl – who was just weeks away from her 13th birthday at the time – looked “shocked” when her mother walked into the room, prosecutor Jim Robertson told Livingston Sheriff Court.

She broke down in school the following day before eventually disclosing details of Henderson’s long-term abuse to her mum, he said

HGV driver Henderson, formerly of Mayfield, Dalkeith, earlier pled guilty to sexually assaulting the youngster while she was in his care at addresses in Whitburn and Bathgate, West Lothian, from September 2014 until March 2017.

He admitted abusing her by kissing her on the mouth and touching her inappropriately.

The day her mother caught Henderson in the act of abusing her, the girl had been off school because she was feeling unwell, Mr Robertson revealed.

He told the court: “She said on that day he touched her breasts and put his hands inside her pants.

“It would appear they were disturbed by the return of the complainer’s mother.

“She recalls the complainer looking shocked.”

After the mother fetched her daughter from school the following day she asked the girl what was wrong, he said.

“She replied: ‘(The accused) has been touching me inappropriately’.

“The mother asked her daughter if she’d been touched ‘down below’ and she replied ‘Yes’ and told her the last incident had occurred the previous night.

“The complainer was visibly upset and went into detail about what had been happening.”

Mr Robertson said there was then a confrontation between the accused and the girl’s mother during which she told him what her daughter had disclosed.

Henderson at first told her the sexual abuse had “maybe” happened by accident. Then he claimed: ‘It was an accident but it only happened once or twice’.”

Mr Robertson said social work and police officers were brought in to question the alleged victim as part of a joint forensic examination.

He said: “During the interview the girl described the actions of the accused on a number of occasions.

“He was detained and interviewed, during which he made various admissions that ‘inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature’ had taken place in the manner she had described.”

Glenn Fraser, defending, said Henderson was now living alone at a temporary address after being hounded out of his previous home as a result of earlier press coverage of the case.

He said his client accepted full responsibility for his course of criminal conduct and was ashamed of what he had done.

However, he added: “In saying this, Mr Henderson is not trying to offset blame in any way, but he did not initiate the contact and he did not prompt the contact at any stage.

“He was effectively restricted to his room and the contact started happening. He started being afraid of somebody finding out but he didn’t raise any alarm bells.

“By hoping it would just stop made it worse because it continued to happen. He believes he’s made a terrible mistake with far-reaching consequences.”

Jailing Henderson, Sheriff Douglas Kinloch told him: “It’s extremely sad to see a man of 53 years of age who has never offended before in his life sitting in the dock facing charges of sexual abuse on indictment.

“You have admitted sexually abusing (this girl) over a period of two and a half years when she was aged between 10 and 12 with what long-term effects I don’t know.

“In my view the gravity of these matters means that I would be failing in my public duty if I did not impose a sentence of imprisonment.”

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