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Sexual predator who targeted Inverness children is jailed

By Ali Morrison

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Sheriff Gary Aitken heard the case at Inverness Sheriff Court.
Sheriff Gary Aitken heard the case at Inverness Sheriff Court.

A predator who inflicted "incalculable psychological damage" on young girls by approaching them in a play park and a bus stop and sexually assaulting two of them has been jailed for three years.

One of the girls, just eight years old, was grabbed by 47-year-old Warren Maclean at a play area behind St Valery Avenue and pulled to the ground but she managed to struggle free.

Inverness Sheriff Court heard that she and her family had to move house to get away from the area. In a nearby park at Dalneigh, just a week earlier on April 11, 2023, a 10-year-old girl was grabbed by Maclean who asked her if she wanted to see his private parts. He then pulled down his trousers and underwear and exposed himself.

A year later, on April 18, 2023, two girls, aged 11 and 12, were waiting at a bus stop in Barn Church Road when Maclean cycled past before turning round and again asked them if they wanted to see his private parts. He began to unbutton his trousers but they ran off, fiscal depute Susan Love told Sheriff Gary Aitken.

They later returned with an adult, traced Maclean, and one of his victims bravely took his photograph which enabled police to identify him. He was arrested and later remanded in custody after two court appearances.

Sentence on him had been deferred for a background report at an earlier hearing in November last year when he appeared by video link.

He admitted two charges of sexual assault and two of obtaining sexual gratification by his actions and comments.

The sheriff was provided with impact statements from Maclean's victims and families, and he referred to them when delivering sentence.

MacLean, who previously lived in Gordonville Road, Inverness, was represented by solicitor advocate Shahid Latif who conceded that a jail sentence was inevitable.

But he asked that it be of sufficient length to enable his client to participate in a rehabilitation programme for sex offenders. At liberty, it normally takes two years. However a social work representative told the sheriff that the prison decides which programmes can be offered to offenders and they can be tailored to suit the time in incarceration.

Mr Latif said: "My client is absolutely ashamed, remorseful and regretful. At the time of the offence, he says he was not right in the head and was prescribed medication. He thinks there may be a correlation with that as this conviction is very different to the others on his schedule of previous."

Sheriff Aitken took several minutes before jailing Maclean.

He told Maclean: "Whatever your motivation may have been or the cause, this was a course of conduct towards young girls which is entirely beyond the scope of what society regards as acceptable.

"The charge relating to the 10-year-old – that will be with her for the rest of her life. As a result of your actions, she and her family have moved house and she missed out on a period at school and it affected her grades.

"An eight-year-old child was walking home, was grabbed and pulled to the ground. She explained to her parents she thought she was going to be taken.

"The one thing that is drummed into children is to be wary of strangers, The damage to that child is incalculable and she has suffered significant psychological damage. I regard that offence as extremely serious."

In relation to the bus stop incident involving two victims, the sheriff added: "One was a girl who was engaged on paper rounds. She couldn't do it any more.

"Now if they see a man they don't know, they run away and this is all down to your actions," the sheriff concluded.

In addition to prison, which was backdated to April 13 last year when he was initially remanded in custody, Maclean was placed on the Sex Offenders' Register indefinitely.

He also had a Sexual Harm Prevention Order imposed for the next six years.

The restrictions on him include banning him from having contact or communicating with any person under the age of 16 except if unavoidable and banning him from locations such as play parks, schools or leisure centres.

He must have any future address approved by the Sex Offenders' Policing Unit and had restrictions placed on his use of the internet and web-enabled equipment.

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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