January 2012

Preacher John Smart jailed over campaign of child abuse

A preacher who stood as a Conservative candidate for Holyrood has been jailed for eight years for a 15-year campaign of child abuse.

John Smart, 48, preyed on three youngsters he met at the Edinburgh City Mission.

He began abusing one of his victims when the boy was just three years old.

Judge Lady Dorrian put Smart on the sex offenders’ register and ordered him to be monitored in the community for three years after his release.

At the High Court in Glasgow, she told Smart: “The social enquiry report points out that these offences were planned, intrusive and involved a significant degree of planning.

“Your victims were vulnerable.

“You pose a sufficiently significant risk to children to merit a lengthy sentence.”

Solicitor advocate John Keenan, defending, said that Smart, a first offender, continued to protest his innocence.

Mr Keenan added: “He denies responsibility for these offences.”

Smart, who stood as a candidate at the 2003 Scottish Parliament elections, persuaded the parents of his victims to let him take the two boys and a girl on trips and also attacked them during overnight visits to his home.

During his trial last year he denied the offences and claimed he could not have carried out the assaults because of a medical problem which meant he was a virgin.

However, a jury at the High Court in Perth found him guilty of five charges of abuse between 1987 and 2002 in Edinburgh, Leith, Peebles and Perth.

The parents of his victims believed he was a devout Christian and let him take the youngsters to play parks and swimming pools.

Instead Smart, of Christian Crescent, Edinburgh, used the time alone with them to carry out the abuse.

He had denied attacking the three children and claimed that he had “no sex drive whatsoever” and was impotent.

He insisted he had suffered from the problem for a long time and he had been forced to break off his engagement to a woman because of the condition.