A graveyard sex offender who repeatedly kissed and groped a vulnerable 13-year-old girl after having intercourse with another underage child has avoided a jail sentence.
Charlie Piggot, 20, was handed a community payback order after Greenock Sheriff Court heard that he is ‘exceptionally immature’ and ‘would not fare well in a custodial environment’.
The decision came despite a social worker declaring in a pre-sentencing background report that Piggot was not suitable for a community-based disposal.
Concern had been expressed about his previous lack of engagement with an unpaid work directive for another criminal offence.
Defence advocate, Joseph Barr, said that the 15-year-old girl — with whom Piggot had sex in Greenock Cemetery — was ‘undoubtedly consenting’.
Piggot later preyed on the drunken 13-year-old in the car park of the town’s B&M store by engaging in sexual activity with her.
But a jury acquitted him last month of a more serious charge of sexually assaulting the child.
Mr Barr said: “Mr Piggot is still a young man and the report author says he presents as exceptionally immature.
The lawyer told the court that Piggot had been in foster care from an early age, had been bullied at school and has suffered mental health problems which partly stem from alcohol abuse.
He said his client was prone to bouts of depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts.
Mr Barr said: “Mr Piggot is well aware that if he doesn’t engage this time then he will go to custody for a very significant period of time, measured in years and not months.
“I am genuinely concerned that if he finds himself in custody that he will not fare well in that environment.
“He has every incentive to take advantage of any opportunity offered to him, and he knows the consequences of non-compliance.
“In my submission this is not a case where a custodial disposal is inevitable.”
The court was told that Piggot’s previous offending history is ‘relatively minor’, although he has other pending criminal matters which are yet to be determined.
At his trial he admitted to knowing the age of the younger female and told the court: “I was well aware she was 13.”
Piggot declared: “I was alone with both but I didn’t put them in any form of danger.”
The court heard that he wanted a pal of graveyard girl — also 15 at the time — to ‘join in’.
Piggot was drunk when he committed the offences on October 6 and November 23 2018, the court heard.
Sheriff Andrew McIntyre told Piggot: “In this difficult case I must balance a whole range of factors.
“The nature of the offence is plainly concerning to the court.
“The children involved required to give evidence at the trial, and on any view that was a very difficult experience for them and one which must not be lost sight of.
“You were acquitted of the most serious charge of sexual assault, otherwise you would have found yourself in a very much more serious situation.
“The sentence must be one that ensures the protection of the public from this sort of behaviour.”
The sheriff said that he was bound by High Court sentencing guidelines which dictate that the age of an accused person must be taken into account.
He said: “Rehabilitation must be at the forefront of the court’s mind.
“The best outcome for the community is that you learn from this experience, and it is also the best outcome for you if you can achieve it.
“I consider that it would be to the benefit of the community if you are compelled to address your behaviour.”
Piggot must complete the maximum 300 hours of unpaid work within nine months.
He will remain under social work supervision for three years and will be on the Sex Offenders Registers throughout that time.
He must also attend alcohol and drug counselling sessions and take part in a specific sex offender rehabilitation programme.
An early review hearing is due to take place next Tuesday.
Sheriff McIntyre told him: “You cannot under any circumstances mess up this opportunity you’ve been given.
“Focus and comply to the letter.
“Anything short of that will cause you to be in a very, very difficult situation.”
Piggot, of central Greenock, has also been made subject to a three-year non-harassment order forbidding him from approaching or contacting, or attempting to do so in any way, the girls involved in the case.