'Your crimes have caused enduring harm' - Edinburgh OAP was still targeting children in his seventies

A predatory pensioner who was still committing committing horrific child abuse in his seventies has been jailed for 10 years.

Sunday, 6th June 2021, 11:48 am

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John Sweeney began abusing girls more than two decades ago and raped his last teenage victim between 2016 and 2018.

The 77-year-old began by targeting and grooming youngsters and took them to see horses, went swimming and even taught one girl to drive when she was about 10.

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Lady Carmichael said Sweeney's victims suffered 'enduring harm'

A judge told the pensioner at the High Court in Edinburgh that his offending meant there was no alternative to a custodial sentence.

Lady Carmichael told the child rapist: "Your crimes have caused enduring harm."

Sweeney, formerly of Queensferry Street Lane, in Edinburgh, was found guilty of three rapes, a sexual assault and four indecency offences against underage girls.

Sweeney's first two victims were aged six and seven when he first targeted them for abuse at a house in the Clovenstone area of Edinburgh and in vehicles.

He got the younger girl to perform a sex act on him and molested her and carried out indecent behaviour towards the older girl.

By the time the older girl was 10 or 11 he had raped her and continued to molest her into her teenage years.

Sweeney told the court that the girl was staying with relatives who had a serious illness and he would see her practically every day.

He said she was aged "10 or something" when she drove his car and told the court: "I think now it was stupid because she didn't have a licence and wasn't insured."

Sweeney began preying on a third girl from the age of eight in the Sighthill area of the city and went on to rape her as a teenager and assault with her with sex toys.

He was found with a note to a victim asking what would happen if others found out she was having sex with him.

The handwritten message was discovered in his wallet, but he claimed he did not know why he wrote it or kept it.

He admitted that in another note he had apologised for causing pain to a victim.

Defence counsel Niall McCluskey told the court: "He appreciates a significant custodial sentence is inevitable."

Lady Carmichael told the retired labourer that he would be placed on the Sex Offenders' Register indefinitely.

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