28th September 2016
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Religious man jailed for ill-treating children

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A man with “extreme” religious beliefs who “physically chastised” children and forced them to stand or sit at a table for hours at a time has been jailed for seven months.

The 50-year-old admitted wilfully ill-treating or neglecting a number of children over an 11-year period, forcing them to stand or sit at a table for a number of hours at a time without being fed, including in the early hours of the morning, preventing them from going to bed, and shouting at them.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said the case covered “an extensive period of time” and it was impossible to give detailed accounts of everything that had happened.

The children were frightened and living in heightened awareness, he said and “completely in the thrall of the accused who was forcing his extreme beliefs on them”.

Prayers would endure for five to six hours at a time, said Mr MacKenzie, during which the children would be forced to stand for lengthy periods and also made to recite lengthy religious tracts.

They could not eat until prayers were finished, he said.

The children were physically chastised and shouted at if they failed to meet the man’s standards, said Mr┬áMacKenzie.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, also pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman on or between 1st December 2015 and 13th of February 2016, both dates inclusive at an address in the isles.

He admitted that on one occasion he struck her on the head with his hand and on two further occasions seized hold of her and repeatedly punched her on the body, all to her injury.

The man also admitted to breaching bail conditions on 26th April this year by sitting in the line of vision and staring at a person that he was not supposed to approach or contact.

He also admitted to sending books between 6th and 9th of May to a woman he was not supposed to contact, breaching bail conditions.

The man had claimed the books were ordered in January for the woman’s birthday, but information, in fact, showed they were ordered in May.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said the man had been in custody since May and at and at the root of the matters was the man’s religious practice.

He told Sheriff Philip Mann about the man’s willingness to accept he had done something wrong and for him wanting to have a chance to show he had changed.

Sheriff Mann said the man’s behavior went “way, way beyond what is normal and acceptable in any civilised society”.

“To me it is against any accepted view of religion that you would act in such a manner,” he said.

The sheriff said he could see no alternative to a custodial sentence and handed the man a seven-month sentence backdated to the 11th May.

He was also given a 28-day sentence to run concurrently for breaching bail and given a non-harassment order.