March 2014

Soldier who had sex with schoolgirls flouted community service order

A former soldier who escaped jail after having sex with two school girls has flouted a community service order imposed on him.

Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist, who originally came under fire from local MSP Rhoda Grant for not jailing David Dunbar, acknowledged at Tain Sheriff Court today there had been criticism of his sentencing.

Dunbar appeared in the dock for a review of the community service order.

Sheriff Gilchrist was told he had failed to carry out the community service imposed on him and was failing to engage in a course for sex offenders

Both were imposed last May at the Tain court as a direct alternative to custody.

Sheriff Gilchrist told Dunbar’s agent Roger Webb there had already been criticism of the sentence he had imposed on Dunbar.

“Most people who have unlawful sex go to jail. Your client did it twice. He also assaulted a child by pushing him to the ground.”

Dunbar (19), now of Kirkside, Alness was convicted of having sex with a 14 year-old girl at a wood in Alness and another 14 year-old girl at Crawl Park near the local secondary school.

He admitted having sex with one of the girls between July 1 and August 7, 2010, and having intercourse with the other on November 24 in 2012.

He was also convicted of pursuing a 13 year-old boy at Kirkside, Alness on May 21, 2012, and punching him on the head to his injury.

Mr Webb today asked the Sheriff to give Dunbar more time to complete his hours of community service.

The latest report indicated his attendance was ‘improving slightly’

The solicitor said he was now in part-time employment and it was impacting on his ability to complete the 295 hours community sentence which had been imposed.

It was the second review of Dunbar’s community service.

Sheriff Gilchrist told Mr Webb: “When he appeared last time you told me that he was taking things on board and he was now attending the Joint Sex Offenders meetings.”

However having read the contents of the latest review Sheriff Gilchrist added: “He hasn’t been doing what he is supposed to be doing. There are no shades of grey here.”

Turning to Dunbar the Sheriff told him: “You clearly still don’t get it. You must do everything that you are required to do. You are not getting your priorities right. I was only persuaded not to send you to prison and if you are not going to engage you will be going to jail.”

The Sheriff ordered another review on May 27 for an update on Dunbar’s progress.

When Dunbar was sentenced last year his advocate Shahid Latif said Dunbar was a young man who suffered tragedy in his life when he was young but he enlisted in the army and proved to be an ‘able young soldier’ before being discharged on medical grounds.

Mr Latif said at the time of the offences there had been no social work intervention in his life.

Sheriff Gilchrist, sentencing him on the sex offences, told Dunbar it would be appropriate to send him to prison.

But he had to consider not only his interests but the wider public interest.

Rhoda Grant at the time criticised the sentence: “We are talking about statutory rape here and on the face of it the sentence does seem lenient.

“However I don’t know why the Sheriff has made this decision, there may be a reason why a custodial sentence is not appropriate.

“When sentences like this are handed out it’s a signal to society that it is not a horrendous crime when actually it is.

“It would be in the public interest to know why prison was not an option but my real fear is that this will be perceived as not being a very serious crime.”