Appeal to have Bonnyrigg man’s jail sentence increased

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A former council care worker who carried out a catalogue of abuse and rape of youngsters being looked after by a local authority faces having his jail sentence increased.

Gordon Collins, formerly of Wolsley Avenue, Bonnyrigg, was jailed for six years after grooming vulnerable children before molesting them at two children’s units in Edinburgh.

The Crown has now appealed again the sentence imposed on Collins (60) maintaining that it was unduly lenient.

Advocate depute Iain McSporran QC told judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh that the jail term was “far below” what it ought to have been for punishment and deterrence.

He maintained that “a significantly more substantial custodial sentence was required”.

The prosecutor said: “Over a period of 11 years he was abusing young children in his care.”

Mr McSporran told Lord Brodie, sitting with Lady Clark of Calton and Lord Turnbull: “The contention of the Lord Advocate is the sentence, in all the circumstances, does not adequately reflect the gravity of the charges.”

The judges were told victims were vulnerable young people, often from troubled backgrounds, who were entitled to expect sanctuary.

Lord Turnbull said during the hearing: “Many of these children are removed precisely to provide protection.”

John Scott QC, for Collins, said: “It is a matter for this court what the range of appropriate sentence is. My primary submission is the appeal ought to be refused and it cannot be said this sentence falls out with the range.”

The trial judge, Lady Wise, told Collins: “You have been convicted of an appalling course of criminal conduct consisting of predatory sexual abuse of four young girls in your care.”

Collins had singled out victims for treats, outings and attention before exploiting them.

Lady Wise told him earlier this year as she sentenced him following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh: “You have shown no remorse for your actions and continue to deny responsibility for the offences while your victims continue to live with the consequences.”

But the judge said she accepted that he had been assessed as a low risk of sexual re-offending due to his age.

Collins had denied a string of charges during his trial but was found guilty of indecency offences against four underage girls and the repeated rape of one of them.

His abuse began in 1995 with a 13-year-old girl whom he would kiss, touch and tell her she was beautiful as he plied her with cigarettes and sweets.

The appeal judges reserved their decision and will give a ruling at a later date.