Serial rapist who struck at Edinburgh's Commonwealth Pool may never be freed

A former worship leader who raped a teenage churchgoer during a catalogue of sex crimes against women and girls has been given a ‘life’ sentence.

By Dave Finlay
Monday, 13th June 2022, 12:44 pm
Updated Monday, 13th June 2022, 12:44 pm

Stephen Charters attacked the teenager at hotels in Edinburgh when she made a cry for help to him and after he earlier preyed on other victims.

Charters, 57, will only ever be released if parole authorities decide his imprisonment is no longer necessary for the protection of the public.

He was ordered to serve a minimum five years and made the subject of an Order for Lifelong Restriction, meaning that he may never be released.

Life sentence: Serial rapist Stephen Charters

He was convicted last year of nine offences, including rape, sexual assault and indecent conduct towards four victims between November 1984 and October 2015. He has already served a five year jail term imposed in 2016 for sex crimes against children.

Defence counsel Mark Stewart QC said that Charters continued to maintain his innocence despite expert reports warning he is a danger to women and girls.

.Mr Stewart said: "The reports each conclude that he presents a high risk of further offending and that there is a high risk that offending would involve sexual violence."

A jury had heard Charters claim that sex with the Edinburgh teenager was consensual, but the victim said it made her feel "horrible inside" and she was "just frozen".

Charters, formerly of Galashiels, said he held "Christian beliefs" and was involved with the church in Edinburgh as a young adult. The girl he raped in hotels had attended a church in Leven, in Fife, where he acted as a worship leader.

He targeted the girl after she had a row with her boyfriend and appealed to Charters for assistance finding somewhere to stay.

Charters claimed that he hoped to contact her father and take her home. But instead he booked into a hotel and subjected her to sex acts before raping her.

The victim told the court: "It is hard to describe it when a guy forces himself on you. I was just frozen. I couldn't move. I got pushed onto the bed. I was hoping he was going to leave me alone."

His 2016 trial heard Charters began his crimes as a boy and continued into adulthood.

He had denied the offences but was found guilty of five charges of indecent behaviour and two of rape between 1977 and 1997.

The serial offender carried out sex crimes between 1977 and 1997 in the Borders, Midlothian and Lanarkshire.

He was convicted of sexual offending from the age of 12 - the youngest age for prosecution in Scotland.

Charters began by molesting a younger girl at a house in the Borders, exposing himself and carrying out sex acts from when she was nine. He raped her when she was 11 years old.

He later abused a second girl at a house in Midlothian and at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh before raping her.

Jailing him after the latest convictions, judge Lady Carmichael said Charters had “caused serious and enduring harm."

She added "You present a high risk of further sexual offending. You have a limited capacity for change."

Charters was also placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely.