Preacher gets eight years for sex offences

A PREACHER who sexually abused children at Peebles Swimming Pool was jailed for eight years on Tuesday.

John Smart, 48, of Christian Street, Edinburgh, had denied five charges, including one of sodomy, relating to three victims – now aged 29, 27 and 22 – between 1987 and 2002,

But at his trial at the High Court in Perth last month, the jury rejected his defence that he could not have carried out the assults because he was impotent and a virgin.

The court heard that Smart, who stood for the Scottish Parliament as a Conservative candidate in Edinburgh East and Musselburgh in 2003, had taken children he had met through the church on trips to abuse them away from their parents. In addition to the Peebles pool, assaults took place at Leith Waterworld and Perth Leisure Pool.

Sentencing him at the High Court in Glasgow, the judge, Lady Dorrian, ordered that Smart be monitored in the community for three years after his release.

She told first offender Smart: “The social enquiry report points out these offences were planned, intrusive and involved a significant degree of planning. Your victims were vulnerable ... you pose a significant risk to children to merit a lengthy sentence.”

“He denies responsibility for these offences,” said defending solicitor advocate John Keenan.