High Court jury finds Shetland man guilty of ‘appalling’ sex offences against children

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A Shetland man was in prison tonight facing a lengthy sentence after being found guilty by a jury of a series of sex acts against children.

Christopher Readings, 44, sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl on various dates at a house in the isles between 2008 and last year. He attempted to rape one of them and carried out lewd acts on the other.

Readings, one of a group of people who tried to set up the Shetland Independent Ambulance Service to improve emergency cover, was convicted of six charges at the High Court in Aberdeen.

A jury of 10 men and four women took nearly three hours to find him guilty by a unanimous verdict.

After the verdict Northern Constabulary detective chief inspector Kenny Anderson said: “This was a serious child abuse case which has involved a number of agencies working together and resulted in enquiries being conducted throughout the United Kingdom. We welcome the conviction today of Christopher Readings.

“I also wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the young victims who, despite suffering what can only be described as prolonged and sustained abuse, have shown immense courage.

“Although Readings was presented with compelling evidence of his guilt, he continued to deny his crimes and chose to put his victims through the further ordeal of having to relive their abuse to give evidence in court.

“I and my colleagues who have been directly involved in the investigation of this appalling case of abuse, hope that today’s verdict allows in some way, the young victims to move on with their lives.”

Readings, a former soldier, who was remanded in custody pending reports, looked at the jury as he was led away and said: “You’ve got it so wrong.”

During the trial the young girl, who is now 14, said Readings made her carry out sex acts on the boy. She told the court: “I didn’t really like it.”

Advocate depute Paul Kearney asked: “Did you ever say ‘no’ to him?”

She replied: “I was kind of scared to. I tried saying no but he kind of just carried on anyway.”

The court heard Readings sometimes spoke to the pair through a chat facility on the computer internet game RuneScape and on Skype.

The girl claimed Readings “almost started crying” and apologised when she saw him after she told her mother and police were called in.

Asked if she replied, she said: “I said, ‘sorry isn’t good enough’.”

Defence lawyer John Keenan told the court his client had worked in several jobs, including with the Ministry of Defence and with an ambulance while living in England.

Today Mr Keenan said his client had now been convicted of “extremely serious charges”.

Readings’ partner, who supported him throughout the case, broke down in hysterics after the verdict was read out. She was accompanied by his mother.

As Readings waited for the jury to return its verdict, he spoke about his work as a paramedic worker.

He said he helped save the life of a heart attack victim who collapsed on Aberdeen’s Market Street on Wednesday night.

He claimed to have grabbed his “paramedic gear”, which he carried in his car, and placed tubes down the man’s throat to give him treatment before ambulance crews arrived.

However, the Scottish Ambulance Service and Grampian Police could find no record of the incident.

Readings, now of Clifton Hampden, Oxfordshire, faces sentence on February 11.

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