Retired lorry driver guilty of sexually assaulting girls as he played hide and seek with them
A retired haulier was yesterday spared a jail sentence after being convicted of indecently assaulting two young girls more than 40 years ago.
George Duff, 65, still denies attacking the girls – both under 13 at the time – as they played hide and seek in a barn on a Speyside farm.
But he was found guilty after a trial at Inverness Sheriff Court and yesterday, Sheriff Margaret Neilson sentenced the 65-year-old to three years probation.
As the offences were committed four decades ago, the Sheriff was obliged to impose a sentence which was applicable in the early 1970s.
Duff, of Milton Farm House, Dulnain Bridge didn’t want to comment after the sentence, which involves having to participate in rehabilitation programmes for sex offenders and remain under social work supervision until 2019.
He was convicted on four charges of abusing the two girls over a period between June, 1971, and September, 1972.
He had denied a total of six charges, four involving one girl and two involving the other.
One charge was dropped after a successful no case to answer plea by solicitor Alison Foggo, and the jury returned a not proven verdict on a second.
But Duff was found guilty of four charges, two each involving a different girl at a farm near Cromdale and in a car near the farm.
One victim occasionally broke down in tears as she described taking part in hide and seek games with Duff in 1971 when he took her high up in the barn into the hay bales.
She said he touched her inappropriately.
She told the jury: “I froze. It seemed like forever. I did not know why he was doing that. It happened several times but not more than four.”
On another occasion, around a year later, she said she was getting driving lessons from Duff and he similarly indecently assaulted her.
His other victim also gave emotional evidence and said she was indecently assaulted by Duff in the barn during a game of hide and seek and again during a driving lesson.
Miss Foggo said: “He is assessed at low or medium risk of re-offending and his ex-wife and other family members continue to support him because they believe in his innocence.”
Sheriff Neilson told the first offender: “I have taken into account you have no previous convictions and you have been of good behaviour since these offences took place over 40 years ago. Therefore I can deal with it by a non-custodial disposal.”