20th September 2018
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Burmese man who made sexual remarks to children was torture victim

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A Burmese man who made sexual remarks to children at Scalloway’s Castle Cafe takeaway was a victim of torture in his home country before he fled under a false passport, it emerged today at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Sai Lon, 31, is currently being held in prison by the UK Border Agency after the Taiwanese passport was found when he was arrested in January for offences involving a girl and four boys aged 12 and 13.

He admitted making inappropriate remarks to the children which could also be heard by other children who were in the takeaway buying chips and other snacks. Two charges alleging that he sexually assaulted two of the boys were dropped.

Sheriff Graeme Napier remanded Lon in custody until 23rd March while reports are compiled to help with his sentencing.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Lon’s offending came to light when the children told their parents about the comments which had been made during visits to the takeaway between 1st December and 20th January. The children did not spend much time on the premises because of discomfort about Lon’s behaviour and the questions he would ask them.

The fiscal said he made remarks about sexual organs and sex with young girls.

Lon sat in the dock with his head bowed as the details of his offences were relayed to him by a woman interpreter.

His own story was revealed to the court by his defence agent Gregor Kelly. Lon is married and has two children back in Burma. He had become caught up in student protests against the military rulers and was tortured, having his Achilles tendon cut repeatedly and needles stuck into his back and snapped. Despite the heartbreak of leaving his family he had felt compelled to leave the country, spending a lot of money on a blank Taiwanese passport.

He arrived in Shetland in late November, having never been in the West before. Through contacts he was offered a job at the takeaway. But he was lonely, was not in communication with anybody and, Mr Kelly said, was “somewhat bemused by western culture”.

He had thought it appropriate to enter into banter with the young ones who came into the cafe, who Mr Kelly said, would call each other names. He had thought it okay to make sexual comments. “He blatantly misgauged the situation,” Mr Kelly told the court.

Attempting to explain the clash of cultures, he said Lon followed the Osho approach to sex which led him to believe that suppressing sexual matters led to “a dirtying of all things sexual”. However, he accepted he should not have spoken about his thoughts to the children.

The court heard that Lon was now applying for political asylum in the UK but may be deported. If he won his liberty he would not come back to Shetland because of his shameful conduct.

Mr Kelly said Lon wanted to apologise for his conduct, particularly to the people of Scalloway.

Sentencing was adjourned until 23rd March and Lon was taken back to prison in Aberdeen.

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