A MOTHER whose children were sexually abused by a preacher today told how it had ruined their lives.
John Smart, 48, a former Conservative Holyrood candidate in the Capital, is in jail awaiting sentence after being found guilty of sex abuse against boys and a girl at various locations across Scotland.
The mother described how her sons had turned to shoplifting to support drug and alcohol problems and said her daughter had self harmed as a result of Smart’s systematic abuse.
She said: “Life has been very stressful from the boys’ teenage years due to their drug taking and shoplifting to feed their habit. Many a time I have been to the sheriff court with one or the other and paying fines on their behalf. One of them as an adult also turned to alcohol.
“My daughter suffers from depression along with her other health problems. She has also self harmed at times. It hasn’t been and still isn’t easy.
“Since this has all come to light I now have more of an understanding of perhaps why they have gone down the path they have, especially after listening to the psychologist.”
Smart, of Edinburgh, claimed he was innocent of the charges because he was impotent.
A jury at the High Court in Perth refused to believe his defence and found him guilty of a total of five charges relating to three separate victims.
The preacher, who called for the outlawing of Gay Pride marches during his Conservative election campaign in 2003, took the children on trips so he could subject them to abuse.
The victims’ mother said: “I also feel a strong sense of guilt for allowing John Smart to take the children out but I had no reason not to trust him. He was, I thought, like an uncle to them.
“He took them places I couldn’t afford to take them as a single parent at the time. He also had very strong biblical views and I thought he would be a good person to be around.
“The last 18 months have been hard for all of us knowing the trial was going to take place and hoping and praying that justice would be served. Thankfully it was.
“Since the verdict a weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I know the kids feel the same way. They can now move on from this nightmare they have been living and I hope this will make them stronger.
“John is now in custody where he deserves to be but I truly hope that he will be able to cope and that no harm will come to him. I hope that he will one day find it in him to admit his guilt.”
The 48-year-old worked as a conductor for ScotRail before retiring with back problems.
Offences against the victims took place in Edinburgh, the Pentland Hills and Leith as well as Peebles and Perth.
Smart now faces a lengthy spell behind bars and will be sentenced by Lady Dorrian at the High Court in Glasgow on January 18 next year.