A DEPRAVED pervert who repeatedly abused a five-year-old girl could be back on the streets in just six months.
Andrew Cowan was jailed for a year after pleading guilty to making the little girl perform sex acts on him.
This is just another woeful example of our soft-touch justice system at workJohn Lamont
But under current early release legislation, Cowan will be released on licence in January next year.
His short sentence was branded as a “woeful” example of Scotland’s “soft-touch justice system”.
The punishment is six months less than the sentence dished out to former Scottish Government aide Neil Trotter, who was this week handed an 18-month prison term for taking photographs up women’s skirts at Waverley station.
Cowan’s defence solicitor, Stuart Peebles, even attempted to persuade a sheriff to consider community service rather than a prison sentence during a hearing yesterday.
Livingston Sheriff Court heard that Cowan swore the little girl to secrecy when he made her carry out the disgusting acts.
It was only when the youngster told her mother that she had a “secret” that the shocking truth came out.
She gave her horrified mother the full story about what the pervert had made her do.
Cowan at first vehemently denied the sexual abuse allegations, but the girl’s family reported him to police.
He later admitted the sexual assault on the young victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “This was a sick and depraved crime, all the more so because this man was in a position of trust.
“He may now understand the gravity of his actions but they have scarred an innocent young girl for life.
“Under these circumstances the victim’s family will no doubt question why he has only been jailed for a year.
“Meanwhile, the public will think this is just another woeful example of our soft-touch justice system at work.”
Cowan, of Whitburn, admitted committing the offence at an address in nearby Bathgate on July 29, 2013. But his not guilty plea to trying to induce her to perform oral sex on him was accepted by the Crown.
He showed no emotion as he was sentenced to a year in prison and told his name would remain on the sex offenders register for ten years.
Mr Peebles said Cowan had never been in trouble before and had lived a secure, well-adjusted life and worked full-time until he had to stop due to medical problems.
Mr Peebles said: “These events of course have now led to his complete isolation and estrangement from his family. His actions have clearly had a very substantial effect on him and will continue to do so in the future.”
He said Cowan had sought psychological help and now appreciated the long-term impact his actions would have on the victim.
He argued that the concerns raised by a social worker in a report written for the court could properly be addressed with unpaid work or a restriction of liberty order.
But Sheriff Douglas Kinloch told Cowan: “In view of the nature of this charge it is my view that there is no sentence other than imprisonment that I can impose.”
Prisoners serving less than four years are released unconditionally at the halfway point. Sex offenders who fall into that category are released on licence, with their licence conditions set by the Scottish Government justice directorate rather than the parole board.