South Scotland

Galashiels man found guilty of raping girls

A man from the Scottish Borders has been found guilty of carrying out a catalogue of sexual abuse and rape of girls over two decades.

Stephen Charters, 51, of Galashiels, began molesting his victims as a boy and continued on into adulthood.

He had denied a string of offences during his trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, but was convicted of seven sex crimes, including two of rape.

He was remanded in custody and will be sentenced next month.

Charters was charged with starting his sexual offending at the age of 12 - the youngest age for prosecution in Scotland.

A court heard he began by molesting a younger girl at a house in the Borders in 1977 and exposing himself and carrying out sex acts in her presence.

Remanded in custody

He later raped the girl when she was aged 11 and he was a teenager.

He also targeted another girl from the age of four and carried out indecency offences against her in the Borders, at a house in Midlothian and at Edinburgh's Royal Commonwealth Pool.

During the abuse he forced his victim to perform sex acts on him and raped her when she was aged between six and eight on an occasion between June 1984 and April 1987.

Charters also made sexual and inappropriate remarks to a girl aged between 10 and 11 between 1995 and 1997 in East Kilbride and during a car journey.

He had been on bail during his trial but after he was found guilty of the offences he was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing next month.

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