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Ex-councillor found guilty of sex offences

Former councillor Robert Henderson. Photo: Shetland News


A FORMER North Isles councillor has been acquitted of rape – but now faces jail after being found guilty of six other historic sex charges.

Robert Henderson was on trial at the High Court in Aberdeen this week accused of a rape 28 years ago and was also accused of sexually abusing two teenagers on the island of Yell.

A jury of eight men and seven women found him guilty by majority verdict of six charges of assault and breaching the sexual offences act – but the jury found the charge of rape to be not proven.

Henderson, 73 and who lives in Yell, will learn his sentence on 3 May at the High Court in Edinburgh. Former independent councillor Henderson had pleaded not guilty to all charges, denying any of the incidents had occurred.

But following more than five hours of deliberation on Friday the jury dismissed the majority of his pleas – although they acquitted him of the most serious charge.

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

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

The court previously heard from two women, now in their 50s, who claimed that he had groped them.

The first alleged victim said it began when she was 11 and ended when she was 16.

Following the verdict, Henderson’s defence agent David Moggach requested bail for his client – arguing that the the charges he had been convicted of were “significantly less serious” than the rape charge and that he posed “no flight risk” when going from his home in Shetland to the mainland.

This was accepted by judge Lord Kinclaven.

But he warned that a custodial sentence was “uppermost in the court’s mind”.

Henderson was elected as an independent councillor in the North Isles in 2007 and again in 2012 before standing down at the last election.

On Friday afternoon detective sergeant Bruce 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.

“It is also acknowledged that his actions and the subsequent inquiry have had a very large impact on many people on the island of Yell, where the crimes took place, and in the wider Shetland community, not least upon the members of Henderson’s own immediate family.

“Robert Henderson’s conviction sends out a clear message that all crimes of a sexual nature, no matter when they occurred, will be robustly investigated by Police Scotland and where a sufficiency of evidence exists, such crimes will be reported for consideration of prosecution in court.”