Airdrie man molested seven-year-old girl on day of her first Holy Communion
A woman broke down in court as she relived the horrific moment an Airdrie man sexually abused her – on the day she received her first Holy Communion.
The woman, now in her 40s, told how perverted James Grahames made her perform a sex act after she stepped out of her “princess for a day” dress to change into casual clothes.
Aged just seven at the time, the woman told a jury at the High Court in Livingston that by then Grahames had already been abusing her for a number of years.
She kept the abuse secret for more than three decades before deciding to put her “demons to bed” by confronting her abuser, a showdown which ultimately led to Grahames’ arrest for historic sexual abuse.
The 55-year-old self-confessed alcoholic denied using lewd, indecent and libidinous practices towards the girl at an address in Airdrie between 1979 and 1983, when she was aged between four and seven.
However, the jury took less than two hours to return a majority verdict, finding the father-of-two guilty as charged.
Judge Lord Burns called for social work background reports and remanded Grahames in custody until his sentencing later this month.
He ordered the accused’s name to be added to the sex offenders’ register and that Scottish ministers be notified of his conviction under laws to protect vulnerable adults.
During the week-long trial Grahames’ victim, who gave her evidence from behind a screen, told how his indecent behaviour towards her began when she was just four.
She said it started as an undressing game called “dungarees” to see who could get their hands into each other’s underwear faster when they were alone.
The abuse progressed to him groping her then escalated to him showing her pornographic magazines and asking her to perform sex acts.
The woman wept as she told how the assaults happened every time the accused visited her parents’ home, a regular occurrence when she was a child.
She said her mother and father were downstairs, completely unaware that their daughter was being abused upstairs.
Grahames’ victim told the jury she had been going to counselling for several months when she finally plucked up the courage to confront her abuser.
She said: “I just wanted to speak to him and ask him ‘why?’”
In May last year she drove to Grahames’ Airdrie home and knocked on his door.
She recalled: “My husband begged me not to do it but I knew I needed to and that was my focus.
“I was a nervous wreck but I thought, ‘I’m doing this. I’m not a little girl any more’.
“I was in charge and what had happened to me wasn’t my fault.
“I was there to put my demons to bed. I wasn’t a different person but I had courage.”
She said Grahames claimed he did not know who she was at first but two minutes later she ensured he knew she was the girl he had sexually abused when he was a teenager.
She told the jury: “He never ever denied it. Not once did he say, ‘I never did that to you.’”
Before challenging him, she said, she phoned home and put her mobile on Grahames’ mantelpiece so her husband could listen to the exchange.
Her husband said he overheard her ask Grahames why he had abused her and heard him answer: “I don’t know why.”
When the woman told him “that’s not an answer”, he said, the accused responded: “I must be a pervert then. I’m just a pervert”.
Grahames told police that he could not remember doing anything to the young girl but added: “If I have I’m sorry.”
He said: “I haven’t touched her. If anything like that happened I’m sorry but I cannae remember a thing. I’ll take a lie detector test, no problem.”
He added: “To me nothing like that happened. Nothing like that would ever happen. I know for a fact I wouldn’t do anything like that. I know for a fact because I’m not stupid.”
Giving evidence, Grahames dismissed the woman’s allegations as “a load of crap”.
He denied rewarding her with money from a bus conductor-style coin dispenser and giving her sweets in return for letting him abuse her.
Following the jury’s verdict Geoff Forbes, defending, said Grahames had just one previous conviction for a breach of the peace in 2001 and had never previously served a prison sentence.
He conceded that the judge would clearly be considering a custodial sentence and said he would reserve his plea in mitigation until then.