A PAEDOPHILE who sexually assaulted young girls while high on drink and drugs was jailed for two years at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday. Michael Takoulas, 53, formerly of Lerwick, carried out three attacks over the course of five years.
Sheriff Graeme Napier said he had no alternative but to imprison Takoulas for breaching the trust placed in him when the girls were in his presence. He said his crimes were completely unacceptable, particularly because he had admitted to social workers that his alcohol and drug use had been behind the first offence yet he had not learned from that and went on to repeat the offences with other girls while he was under the influence of drink and drugs.
Dressed smartly in a suit and carrying a holdall, Takoulas was put in handcuffs and taken away to prison. One person on the public benches began to clap and was swiftly reprimanded by the sheriff.
Takoulas fled the UK in August after being released on bail from the court but eventually agreed to return from South Africa. He was arrested when he landed at Heathrow Airport and two days later in Lerwick was let out on bail while background reports were compiled to help decide his sentence.
During that time he was sent to live in the Turniebrae council estate in Dunrossness, alarming families living there with small children. His car had two of its tyres slashed one night and his solicitor Greer McRoberts said his client had been subjected to “a great deal of vilification”.
Sheriff Napier said he could well understand the horror people felt about sex offenders, a feeling he shared. But that did not mean the community was entitled to take it out on the offender and make his life a misery, particularly while he was awaiting sentence.
Takoulas is not a native Shetlander but the sheriff said there were many sex offenders who were native and if he thought people had acted against Takoulas because he was not local he would be even more “profoundly contemptuous” of their behaviour.
Before sentencing, Mr McRoberts had asked for leniency for his client and disputed a claim in the social inquiry report that Takoulas had little empathy with his victims.
He said his client had pled guilty at an early stage, avoiding the need for children to be called as witnesses and to undergo cross-examination by the defence. He also asked that the sheriff take into consideration a letter from Takoulas’ brother in South Africa which claimed he had contributed money and effort worth tens of thousands of pounds to charitable organisations in the country. Mr McRoberts said Takoulas had given up his lucrative job following his earlier court appearances.
Taking into account his early plea the sheriff reduced his sentence by a third, from three to two years. He will stay on the sex offenders’ list for seven years and the government will be notified that he is unsuitable to work with children.