Former Scots QC guilty of abusing four children

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John WattImage source, SPINDRIFT
Image caption,
John Watt QC was extradited to Scotland from the United States

A former senior Scots lawyer has been convicted of historical sex abuse against four children.

John Watt QC was extradited to Scotland from the United States after abusing three girls and a boy in Edinburgh over a 14-year period in the 1970s and 80s.

He was convicted of raping one of the girls. A number of the victims had relatives who were also legal figures at the time.

The 72-year-old had denied the charges. He will be sentenced next month.

The High Court in Glasgow heard how the attacks happened at different properties in Edinburgh's New Town and Leith as well as a property in Edinburgh's west end.

During his trial, he pinned the blame on a now dead lawyer for attacks on one of the girls.

But he was found guilty of five charges that took place between 1973 and 1987.

He was convicted of raping one girl as well as lewd and libidinous behaviour against another girl and a boy. He was also found guilty of indecently assaulting a third girl.

The court heard how Watt often worked and mingled with a number of leading names in the Scots legal world at the time.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The court heard that a number of the victims had relatives who were also legal figures at the time

The female rape victim told how her father - who was also a lawyer - took her to see Watt at a house in Edinburgh. She was aged seven when the abuse began.

The woman, now aged 55, recalled being given an "instruction" by her father before being left alone with Watt.

She told jurors she was raped on two occasions and said Watt had told her she was a "good girl".

Two sisters - now in their 50s - told the trial their lawyer father often hosted gatherings at their home where Watt and others would turn up.

One recalled being in bed during a social event there and woke up to find Watt at her bedside. She remembered being "frightened" and moved to turn away but the advocate molested her.

'No recollection'

Watt's final victim told how he was aged 10 when the advocate looked after him while his parents were away.

The man, now aged 45, told the court: "I was raped by John Watt. I know it was something I did not want."

After the abuse, Watt gave up law in Scotland and in 1995 set up a new life in Oklahoma, working at his wife's real estate agency.

He was extradited back to Scotland in 2020.

In his evidence, he claimed he had "never seen" the female rape victim, had "no recollection" of the incidents with the young sisters and had never been in sole charge of the boy.

Defence QC Donald Findlay had asked for Watt to remain on bail pending sentencing.

However, judge Lord Braid told Watt: "You have been convicted of very serious offences and a custodial sentence is inevitable."

The former advocate was remanded in custody pending sentencing on 8 August.

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