August 1999

Pensioner who abused sisters is sent to prison; A promise to take a child to see Bambi ended with incident in bedroom

Justice finally caught up yesterday with an 80-year-old man who sexually abused a young girl after pretending he was taking her to the cinema to see the Disney classic Bambi.

William Buchan, who also abused his victim’s sister, became one of Scotland’s oldest prisoners when temporary judge Robin McEwan QC jailed him for three-and-a-half years. The judge rejected a defence plea for the accused to be placed on probation for the offences committed 25 years ago.

He told Buchan at the High Court in Edinburgh that he considered a jail sentence the only appropriate disposal for his “gross behaviour” towards children who trusted him.

He added: “It is, however, the case that this happened a very long time ago and that you are now a very old man not in the best of health. I think that justice will be served by a sentence of 42 months imprisonment.”

The two victims wept and hugged each other after Buchan, a retired baker, of Marmion Road, Lochore, Fife, was convicted after a three- day trial on three charges of indecency. The jury was told Buchan subjected one sister to sex abuse from the age of six and also molested her 11-year-old sister. He would drive round the streets of a Perth housing estate until he found the children playing.

He would pretend he was taking one or other of the girls to visit his common-law wife, who was not well, but instead would carry out indecent acts on his victims then give them sweets and money.

The offences were committed between 1973 and 1980. The younger victim, who is now aged 31, told the court that she had gone to Buchan’s home in Perth expecting to be taken to the pictures to see Bambi. Instead, Buchan took her into a bedroom, pulled down her clothes, lay on top of her and simulated sex.

“I didn’t know what to think,” she told the court. “I was just a kid.”

Afterwards, Buchan gave her money to go to the cinema. Her sister, now a 35-year-old home help, said that during an outing to a park in Perth Buchan had made her perform an indecent act. He had also simulated sex with her.

The jury heard that the sisters kept quiet about what had happened to them for almost 20 years, but finally decided to go to the police in April last year. One of the victims described herself as “terrified” but said the birth of her child had helped change her mind and decide to report the abuse.

During the trial Buchan denied sexual abuse and claimed that the women were telling lies. He maintained that because of what he had suffered during the Second World War he had lost his sexual urge and was medically incapable of carrying out the acts of which he was accused.

Mr McEwan had deferred sentence for reports and yesterday defence counsel Ian Donaldson said that Buchan was a first offender who suffered from a number of ailments.

In November 1997, retired miner James Kiers, 89, became Scotland’s oldest prisoner when Lady Cosgrove jailed him for two years at the High Court in Edinburgh for sexually abusing a girl.