Former rugby star sexually abused kids

Rideout to East Buccleuch . Part of the Hawick Common Riding. Pictured  is  Norman Pender.
Rideout to East Buccleuch . Part of the Hawick Common Riding. Pictured is Norman Pender.

Norman Pender is behind bars after being convicted by a High Court jury of sexually abusing two young girls over a decade.

But the same jury of nine women and six men cleared him with a not-proven verdict of an allegation that he repeatedly raped his first victim.

He was found guilty of three charges of lewd and libidinous behaviour and a single allegation of sexual assault.

It took the jury two days to return their verdicts after three days of hearing evidence at the trial in Edinburgh.

Scottish rugby internationalist Pender, 65, had denied all the charges.

The sexual abuse was carried out at various addresses in Hawick between April 1986 and October 1987.

His first victim told the jury that the abuse started when she was just eight and continued until she was 19.

He started abusing his second victim in January 1986 when she was nine – and he preyed on her until she was 11.

Pender’s solicitor advocate Iain Paterson pleaded with the judge for bail to be continued so the first offender could spend time with his sick wife and aged mother before being jailed.

But Lord Stewart told the former used-car salesman: “You have been convicted of some very serious offences. It would not be in the interests of justice for you to remain on bail.

“I am therefore remanding you in custody.”

Crown prosecutors had also opposed bail, saying it would offend public interest if he was allowed to stay at liberty.

Lord Stewart, who will sentence Pender next month, placed him on the Sex Offenders Register.

Pender, of Cavers, near Denholm, was a Lib Dem member of Scottish Borders Council between 1998 and 2003.

He played rugby for Hawick and the South of Scotland, and was capped as prop for his country against Ireland, England, Wales and France in season 1978-79.

In 1996 he championed those women in Hawick who challenged the tradition that only men could take part in Common Riding cavalcades.

He became chairman of the Lady Riders’ Association which helped secured victory four years later from the Equal Opportunities Commission.

On the opening day of the trial, Pender’s first victim told prosecution lawyer Alison Di Rollo exactly what the retired sportsman did to her.

The woman, who gave her evidence from behind a screen, took a deep breath as she described in horrifying detail how she was repeatedly sexually assaulted.

When Ms Di Rollo, the head of the Crown Office’s national sex crimes prosecution unit, asked her whether she gave her consent to these acts taking place, the woman replied: “No.”

The advocate depute asked the victim how she felt after the abuse took place. She replied: “Dirty, sick, lonely, ashamed.”

When Ms Di Rollo asked her how many times the sex attacks took place, the woman told her: “Far too many times to count.”

The woman also said that Pender discouraged her from telling anybody what was happening.

She told the jury: “He said that I was a child and that nobody would believe me.”

The woman also revealed that she told a boyfriend about the abuse when she was in her late teens.

However, the jury heard that she didn’t contact the police until many years later.

Pender, in a navy-blue pin-striped suit, shook his head when the guilty verdicts were announced.

He’d arrived at court carrying a bag with some personal belongings.

And when bail was refused and he was remanded, the judge told him: “I suspect you have been well prepared for this eventuality.”

Lord Stewart deferred sentence until January 15 at the High Court in Paisley for background reports, but said jail was the probable outcome.