A MAN who abused a 14-year-old in the woods and followed four more teenage girls has walked free from court.
Cyclist Grant Hardy, 48, sparked a massive manhunt after tailing two friends while pushing his bike and grabbing another by the thigh.
Parents of his victims in Penicuik slammed his community payback sentence yesterday and told of a town living in fear.
The tearful 37-year-old mum of one of his victims said outside court: “He’s a monster and he’s free to walk the streets – it’s disgusting.”
Hardy sexually assaulted the 14-year-old in Deanburn by “grabbing her leg below her bottom” in the middle of the afternoon in July.
Six days later he followed two 16-year-olds in Eastfield Drive who were forced to run away from him.
And in April last year he followed a 14-year-old and her 15-year-old friend while pushing his bike near Flotterstone Reservoir in the Pentland Hills.
Hardy admitted two charges of threatening behaviour and one of sexual assault at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.
He was given a two-year antisocial behaviour order and community payback order during which he must register as a sex offender.
He was also barred from entering an area off the A702.
Sentencing Hardy, Sheriff Frank Crowe said: “I take a serious view of these matters.
“These young women were frightened by your actions which were of a sexual nature.
“It’s a serious view the court takes of these charges – this conduct cannot be tolerated.”
But the mum of one of his victims said: “It’s an absolute disgrace.
“It was separate incidents.
“He sexually assaulted one of the girls and he can walk past them every day without a care in the world. The case was delayed to get a mental health assessment on him but what about the mental health issues of the girls – nobody has asked about them.
“The girls are scared to go out, scared of the dark.
“They’re only 14. It didn’t happen at night, this was in daylight at half past three in the afternoon.
“They’re just children and shouldn’t have to deal with this – he’s stolen their childhood.
“The police have been absolutely fantastic in the way they’ve treated the girls but the courts have let us down.
“All the parents around here are scared for their children now. It’s a small town and a nice town, it’s got its issues like anywhere but it’s nice.”
Hardy refused to comment as he left court but his companion, believed to be his brother, said: “He doesn’t want to say anything but he is sorry.”
But the mum of one of his victims said: “Sorry isn’t going to fix it.”
And another, 38, added: “He stood staring at my daughter and her friend from across the street – they ran away. It’s disgusting.
“Parents are telling their daughters not to go out. It didn’t even happen at night, it was the middle of a summer afternoon.”