Hawick pensioner jailed for sex attacks on children in 1970s

Nigel Hartdegen.
Nigel Hartdegen.

A sexual predator has been brought to justice four decades on for molesting young girls and exposing himself to them back in the 1970s.

Nigel Hartdegen, 67, is now behind bars after a judge refused to continue his bail following his conviction for three offences of indecent behaviour.

Hartdegen, of Hillend Drive in Hawick, targeted two girls for abuse, carrying out sex acts on them between 1973 and 1976.

He molested one child from the age of six at an address in his home town, lifting up her skirt and forcing her to perform a sex act on him.

He abused the second girl from the age of 10, exposing himself to her and making her carry out a sex act on him.

One of his victims told the High Court in Edinburgh that she was a little girl when she visited his house in Hawick and was targeted after being lured into a shed in its back garden.

The woman, now 51, said she was asked to take a cup of tea out to the shed, and Hartdegen then shut the door and exposed himself to her.

She told police: “I was wearing a dress, and he pulled my dress up at the front with his hands.

“He said he wanted to see the colour of my knickers.”

She said she got a fright and pulled away from and ran back into the house.

During a further visit, though, she was given a cup of tea to take to him in the shed and he rubbed himself up against her.

The woman said she did not reveal the abuse that was perpetrated against her at the time as she was frightened and scared and was told no one would believe her.

She later told police: “He always warned me not to tell anybody as nobody would believe me.

“I actually thought ‘nobody is going to believe me. I am just a little girl’.”

Pensioner Hartdegen had denied those offences but was found guilty after trial last Thursday of three charges of lewd, indecent libidinous practices and behaviour against the two girls.

He was acquitted of three further charges of indecent assault, indecent exposure and indecent behaviour.

Following the jury’s verdict advocate depute David Nicolson revealed that Hartdegen had previous convictions for indecent exposure and sexual assault.

Defence counsel Tim Niven-Smith said his client accepted that a prison term was inevitable following the convictions but added that a background report would have to be prepared on Hartdegen before sentencing as he has never previously served a jail sentence.

Mr Niven-Smith asked for Hartdegen’s bail to be continued ahead of sentencing, but that plea was rejected.

Judge Lady Ailsa Carmichael told Hartdegen: “The position has changed significantly with the finding of the jury, and you will be remanded in custody.”

Hartdegen was also placed on the sex offenders’ register.

He is due to be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow later this month.