Former Shetland councillor cleared of rape but convicted of sex assaults

image source, Shetland News
image captionRobert Henderson is a former councillor and businessman

A former councillor and well-known Shetland businessman has been cleared of raping a woman but was found guilty of sexually assaulting two girls.

Robert Henderson, 73, had denied seven charges at the High Court in Aberdeen.

The charge that he raped a woman - now in her 60s - twice in 1990 on the island of Yell was found not proven by the jury on a majority verdict.

However, he was found guilty of sexual assault charges involving two girls, dating back to the 1970s.

The abuse began when one of the girls was 11.

He was also found guilty of inappropriately touching two women in the early 1990s.

Judge Lord Kinclaven deferred sentence on Henderson until May for background reports.

image captionHenderson denied the charges at the High Court in Aberdeen

The judge warned Henderson he should be under no illusion that a custodial sentence would be uppermost in the mind of the courts in cases of this kind.

However, he allowed bail to be continued.

The former independent councillor declined to comment to BBC Scotland as he left court.

Lives impacted

Henderson had told defence counsel David Moggach he did not commit the offences alleged, but advocate depute Lisa Gillespie, prosecuting, suggested he was lying about it.

The jury, of eight men and seven women, took just under three-and-a-half hours to return the majority verdicts on the seven charges after a four-day trial.

After the verdict, Det Sgt Bruce Peebles described Henderson's offending as stretching from the 1970s through to the 1990s.

He said he abused his position as a prominent local businessman to try to disguise his behaviour with vulnerable victims.

Det Sgt Peebles said: "Police Scotland very much acknowledges the courage of the victims who decided to come forward during the inquiry and recognises the lasting effects which Henderson's actions have had on them throughout their lives."

He said Henderson's actions had an impact on many people on the island of Yell.

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