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Pensioner Faces Rest of Life in Jail

By William Dick, The Scotsman 26/10/2001

A FORMER Quarriers Village house parent was last night facing a lengthy jail term after a sheriff ruled that three years detention was insufficient for his sex crimes.

Frail Joseph Nicolson, 74, described as "a good Christian who did the Lord's work", was convicted by a jury of sexually abusing a 13-year-oid girl in his care over a prolonged period 35 years ago.

When the pensioner returned for sentence at Greenock Sheriff Court yesterday, Sheriff John Herald decided he did not have the power to punish Nicolson adequately.

Referring to a similar case involving another Quarriers Care Worker, the sheriff declared: "In a recent High Court case their Lordships ruled that a breach of trust involving young children is among the most serious crimes the courts have to deal with.

"I am therefore not satisfied that my powers of sentence are sufficient."

He told Nicolson: "This was a vulnerable young girl who was put in your care when her own parents were unable to look after her.

"She was entitled to expect your care but you abused her trust."

The sheriff remitted the case to the higher court despite pleas from Nicolson's lawyer that his client is seriously ill.

Defence counsel Donald MacLeod said Nicolson had been "completely demolished" by the case and needed to be placed under protection while on remand.

"Events of his conviction and aftermath have substantially jeopardised his health," he said.

Last month another house parent, 70-year-old Samuel McBrearty, was jailed for 12 years after being convicted of raping or molesting three girls, also during the Sixties.

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