December 2000


William McFarlane, 58, pleaded guilty to 13 charges of rape, sexual assault and other serious sex offences on the second day of his trial in November.

And a further 14 charges were ordered to be left on file after McFarlane admitted the vile sex attacks.

His change of plea left his distraught victims in tears as they heard they would not have to give evidence in court.

Sentencing at Newcastle Crown Court, Judge Guy Whitburn told him: “You pleaded guilty to very serious offences indeed. You are a wicked, evil pervert.”

McFarlane’s wife, Margaret, 56, was cleared of vicious beatings and encouraging her husband as he carried out other attacks, and walked free from court.

The court had heard how McFarlane abused three girls, from 1961 to 1986, in the back of his record shop in Jarrow, and in a cabin where he worked as a security guard on a site in North Tyneside.

Margaret McFarlane, of Lindisfarne in Jarrow, was accused of knowing about the sex attacks, and carrying out her own vicious beatings, but was cleared when her husband changed his plea.

The prosecution said they were satisfied it was no longer in the public interest to pursue the charges against Mrs McFarlane after her husband’s admissions.

The court heard how events came to light in 1998 when the victims made complaints to police and the pair were arrested. The women were left with severe mental scars as a result of the attacks.

Defence barrister Jane Waugh told the court how McFarlane “deeply regrets” his actions and is now a man of ill health.

She added: “He has ruined their lives. He is very well aware of that and is extremely sorry for it.”