A sex predator who abused a girl at Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Pool was jailed for five years today.
Stephen Charters carried out a string of sex crimes against victims the youngest of whom was aged just four when he began targeting her.
He began abusing girls as a child and continued into adulthood.
The former bus driver had denied the offences at an earlier trial but was found guilty of five charges of indecent behaviour and two of rape carried out over two decades.
A judge told Charters: “These are very serious charges of which you have been convicted and they were committed over a very long period.”
Lady Clark of Calton said it was plain that the victims had been very seriously affected by the abuse for many years.
The judge said she accepted that most of the early offending was committed when Charters was a child himself and the first rape of an 11-year-old occurred when he was aged 13 or 14.
But she said the further rape he carried out on a girl aged between six and eight took place when he was “a young adult”.
Lady Clark told him: “I take into account that you are a first offender, that you led a useful and productive life and there has been no offending for many years.”
Charters, 51, formerly of Wood Street, Galashiels, in the Borders, was convicted of sex crimes between 1977 and 1997 in the Borders at Gorebridge, in Midlothian, and East Kilbride, in Lanarkshire.
He was convicted of sexual offending from the age of 12 - the youngest age for prosecution in Scotland.
He began by molesting a younger girl at a house near Melrose, when she was nine. He later raped her when she was 11 years old.
Charters later abused a second girl at a house in Gorebridge and at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh before raping her.
He later made inappropriate sexual remarks to a third girl in East Kilbride and during a car journey.
Lady Clark said: “He is in complete denial about all of this. He does not seem to have any understanding or recognition of his behaviour on the victims.”
Defence counsel Shelagh McCall QC told the High Court in Edinburgh that Charters continued to deny involvement in the sex offending.
She said there was a 20 year gap since the last of the offences during which time he had worked for a bus firm and driven children to school. She said other people had been interviewed and no further allegations were made against him.
She said Charters was prepared to co-operate with offence-related programmes offered in prison.