‘Jealous and controlling’ East Lothian rapist facing jail after five-year sexual violence campaign

A domestic brute abused and raped two young women in a relentless campaign of sexual violence spanning five years, a court has heard.

Friday, 26th April 2019, 2:22 pm
Updated Friday, 26th April 2019, 2:40 pm

James McGhee is facing a lengthy prison sentence after a jury found him guilty of seven rapes and two brutal assaults on his vulnerable female victims.

His name was added to the sex offenders’ register.

He was cleared of an eighth rape after the jury found the charge not proven.

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Livingston High Court. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

One of the woman, now 26 years old, told how she twice had to attend hospital with a broken leg and a fractured eye socket caused by McGhee kicking her in the face and attacking her with a pick axe handle a glass tumbler and the extension tube off a vacuum cleaner.

She gave evidence that “jealous and controlling” former mechanic McGhee, 22, repeatedly raped her at various addresses in East Lothian over a two-year period.

The other woman, a 21-year-old single mum, recalled how he threatened her with a knife and a screwdriver at addresses in Prestonpans and Tranent and in a car at Cameron Toll shopping centre during their turbulent relationship.

McGhee, of Prestonpans in East Lothian, claimed that sex with both women had been consensual and insisted that he had never raped either of them, the jury at the High Court at Livingston was told.

Although he admitted he had been physically violent by punching and kicking each of the complainers he flatly denied using any weapons or other implements to attack them with.

He claimed that both women had colluded in lying and he rejected claims that the family of one of the victims had confronted him about raping their daughter a year before she reported it to the police.

The older woman related numerous incidents in which he had threatened and assaulted her before having sex with her against her wishes.

On one occasion she said she was raped in the bath, on another dragged into a bedroom and raped, twice pinned to a bed with her arms above her head and once grabbed by the hair and forced to perform oral sex.

The 21-year-old from East Lothian, gave evidence that McGhee had forced himself on her after a night out at the Golfer’s Rest in North Berwick.

She said she was naked in bed with him when he suddenly grabbed her arms had sex with her against her wishes.

She told a jury she was crying during the ordeal as McGhee covered her mouth with his hand.

During one argument she said McGhee violently attacked her in his bedroom in Prestonpans, hitting and punching her and grabbing her by the throat.

She said: “It went on for about a minute but it felt like forever. It terrified me. It took my breath away.”

In his closing speech, advocate depute David Taylor told the jury that McGhee had “manipulated his evidence” to them to minimise his involvement.

He told jurors: “If he accepted there were blows to the head it’s not a great leap of the imagination to accept that one of those blows caused the injury to her eye socket.”

He said McGhee’s claim that the spiral fracture in his victim’s leg was due to a drunken trampoline fall did not match the woman’s explanation at hospital.

Mr Taylor said: “She didn’t want people to think he was responsible. But other people saw injuries to both women.

“I’d suggest that what Mr McGhee has told us is the bare minimum he’s got to accept in the light of all the evidence.

“He’s basically lied when it comes to those matters.”

Following McGhee’s conviction, the advocate depute moved for sentence and revealed that the accused had eight previous convictions, two of them for assault to severe injury but not involving the complainers in the current case.

He said McGhee also had a communications act conviction in August 2015 involving the first complainer in the rape trial and four further domestic abuse convictions involving the second woman.

He said the accused had been in custody since being remanded in relation to the 10 original charges on September 19th, 2018.

Kevin McCallum, defending, said reports would be required before sentence because McGhee had never previously served a prison sentence. He reserved his plea in mitigation.

Judge Lord Woolman called for a background report and adjourned the case until May 30th at Edinburgh High Court. He remanded McGhee in custody until then.

The judge ordered that McGhee’s name be added to the sex offenders’ register with immediate effect and instructed the clerk of court to inform Scottish Ministers of the conviction under legislation to protect vulnerable groups.

He told the accused: “The jury by a verdict of not proven have acquitted you of charge eight but have convicted you of the remaining charges on the indictment.

“Because you’ve not previously served a prison sentence I require to obtain a criminal justice social work report before proceeding. That will give me more information about your background and circumstances.

“I shall adjourn this. You will be remanded in custody.”

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