Ship Inn sex pest is freed

Selkirk Sheriff Court
Selkirk Sheriff Court

A sex pest pub boss was jailed for eight months on Tuesday – but was out of the cells within hours.

Keith McDonald preyed on victims for 10 years at the Ship Inn in Melrose.

Sheriff Janys Scott told McDonald he’d abused his position as an employer.

But after Tuesday’s sentencing hearing at Selkirk, McDonald immediately lodged an appeal.

And he was given temporary release from prison until that appeal is heard by judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.

McDonald was convicted after a trial last month when he was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.

The 48-year-old is the human resources manager at the Melrose pub, where his wife, Vivien, is licensee.

All the offences of which he was convicted, which stretch back to 2001, took place in the Ship Inn.

Selkirk Sheriff Court was told he repeatedly indecently assaulted one female employee over a 10-year period between 2001 and 2011 by touching her breasts and buttocks.

The court was told she tried to avoid contact with him.

In 2007, McDonald indecently assaulted another female by touching her in a sexual nature and she immediately left her job.

He was also found guilty of uttering sexual remarks to staff members over a 10-year period, and exposing himself on one occasion in the presence of members of the public and two female staff.

On July 14 last year, McDonald sexually assaulted an 18-year-old female customer by touching her breasts and putting his hand inside her clothing.

The court was told that another customer brought that incident to an end.

Defence lawyer Victoria Dow admitted her client had an outdated and old-fashioned view on how to speak to women in a professional environment.

She added: “He did not think he was doing anything wrong. But he was wrong in that assessment of the situation.”

Sheriff Scott told McDonald that, as human resources manager of the public house, he took responsibility for hiring staff.

She added: “You abused your position as an employer.

“It was not frivolous or a joke. It was criminal behaviour.”

Sheriff Scott said she had no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence.