June 2018

Convicted sex offender who shone torch in teenage boy’s bedroom window dodges jail

A convicted sex offender who stood outside a 15-year-old boy’s bedroom in the dead of night and shone a torch in the window while wearing a doctor’s coat today dodged jail.

James Donaldson – who once appeared in court accused of murdering his dad – avoided prison over the bizarre campaign of harassment towards the teenager.

Donaldson previously served a four-year prison term for sodomy and lewd, indecent and libidinous practices towards a 13-year-old boy in 1989.

Prosecutors urged a court to place him on the sex offenders register – arguing his conduct displayed a “significant sexual element”.

But a sheriff said she couldn’t take into account his previous conviction when making that decision, ruled she couldn’t place him on the register and allowed him to walk free on a community payback order.

Donaldson – who appeared in court in 1995 accusing of murdering his dad Harry Murray before being released after 76 days on remand – was found guilty by a jury of following the lad, sending him a creepy letter, shining a torch in his bedroom, staring at him and approaching him over the course of more than a year.

A three-day trial at Dundee Sheriff Court heard of a string of unnerving incidents that left the boy, who cannot be identified, and his mother terrified.

A jury was told how Donaldson developed an infatuation with the boy and was caught repeatedly walking past his home, through the gardens in the middle of the night and shining a torch in the windows.

In one chilling incident Donaldson was clocked standing directly outside the boy’s bedroom window in the middle of the night wearing a doctor’s coat and shining the torch in his window.

Over a period of weeks he was spotted staring at the boy in the street and on one occasion walked up to him at a bus stop and tried to engage him in a conversation.

On another occasion Donaldson – who has repeatedly made public calls for him to be formally cleared of his dad’s killing – sent the boy a creepy letter that he signed with a kiss.

The family only got respite from Donaldson’s twisted campaign when he was jailed over another incident – only for him to start up again when he was released.

Donaldson, 52, of Glenesk Avenue, Dundee, originally faced a charge of stalking on indictment.

A jury found him guilty of the alternative charge of behaving in a threatening and abusive manner towards the boy at various streets in Dundee on various occasions between October 1 2016 and December 4 2017.

Today defence solicitor Anne Duffy said: “He served a significant period in custody previously.

“He has co-operated fully with the social workers preparing this report and would undertake any order imposed.”

Sheriff Lorna Drummond QC imposed a community payback order with 250 hours unpaid work, three years’ supervision, and an order to take part in a rehab programme.

She also previously imposed a non-harassment order banning him from contacting the boy and entering the area where he lives.

Sheriff Drummond said: “You have been found guilty of this offence on indictment – it is a relatively serious offence.

“You have spent a significant period on remand and in the circumstances I’m going to impose a community payback order as a directy alternative to custody.”

Donaldson was arrested and charged with murdering his father, Harry Murray, in 1995 and appeared on petition at Dundee Sheriff Court.

He was fully committed for trial over the allegation and spent 76 days on remand before being released from custody.

Mr Murray, 59, died after being assaulted as he patrolled the factory site where he worked on March 31 that year.

Donaldson was never brought to trial – but prosecutors have reserved the right to raise proceedings against him again should new evidence come to light.

Donaldson has twice publicly appealed for the case against him to be formally dropped.

Speaking in 2012 he said: “I am an accused murderer but I have never been brought to trial and the case against me has never been dropped.

“I’ve suffered from depression and in the early days I thought about ending it all — but I couldn’t.”