Support worker who engaged in sexual activity with pupil placed on supervision

A SUPPORT worker at a Borders school who engaged in sexual activity towards a pupil has been placed on supervision for three years.

Robert McWilliam, 68, was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and was placed on the Sex Offenders Register after being found guilty of the offence following a trial.

He exchanged “sexualised” text messages with the girl when she was 16 and 17 years old.

McWilliam engaged in sexual activity with the teenager between June 2017 and June 2018 by touching her on the body and sending inappropriate messages of a sexual nature on a mobile phone he had supplied her.

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Jedburgh Sheriff Court was told McWilliam was in a position of trust.

McWilliam, of Gordon, Berwickshire, was part of the Social Emotional and Behaviour Needs team at the school but when the girl turned 16 years of age she was no longer under his care.

However, the divorced grandfather ran a drop-in centre at the school which the girl sometimes attended during which the messages were exchanged.

Defence lawyer Mark Harrower said: “At the time he was involved in a stressful work environment which did not help him to regulate his behaviour in this situation.

“There is no suggestion of inappropriate behaviour to any other young persons. He is 68 years old and a first offender and has tried to assist young persons but unfortunately through weakness and poor judgement he has committed this offence and shown genuine remorse.”

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He added that a lengthy supervision order would allow the court to monitor McWilliam over a longer period rather than a short-term custodial sentence.

Mr Harrower also highlighted the health difficulties McWilliam was encountering.

Sheriff Peter Grant-Hutchison said McWilliam had been found guilty of a breach of trust and it was a conviction well worthy of a period of imprisonment.

He added: “However, I am satisfied from reading the report that you have shown a great deal of contrition and I am aware of your health difficulties.”

The sheriff imposed a three-year Community Pay Back order with supervision and also 200 hours of unpaid work and made him subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act.

Border Telegraph | News