A man accused of indecent behaviour towards two young girls when they came looking for work weeding his vegetable plot was convicted at the end of his trial at Lerwick Sheriff Court this week.
John Millarkie, 50, of Hoswick, Sandwick, was charged with using lewd and libidinous practices towards an 11-year-old and 12-year-old at his home during last year’s summer holidays.
He pleaded not guilty to asking one of the girls to pose for a photograph in her swimming costume, before stroking her leg and underneath her clothing, when he appeared in court last month. He also denied offering the other girl £10 to take off her top and allow him to massage her front and back on his four-poster bed.
Following four hours of evidence from the girls via a video link last month, the trial before Sheriff Philip Mann was adjourned until Monday to allow Millarkie’s defence agent Mark Lovie time to prepare a full submission arguing that the Crown had not presented enough evidence to prove his client was the man accused of the offences.
No dock identification is required in cases involving vulnerable witnesses. However Mr Lovie argued there still needed to be some form of identification such as an ID parade.
On Monday he told the court: “There has been nobody in this case who has identified Mr Millarkie as the person alleged to have committed these crimes.”
However Sheriff Mann accepted procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie’s point that information given by Millarkie during a police interview tied in with evidence given by the girls.
“During the interview the accused puts himself at the relevant place when both complainers were there,” he said.
He added the girls had spoken about Millarkie as someone who was known to them, and said they knew the house where he lived and the fact he owned a vegetable field in which they had worked.
Under questioning, Millarkie repeatedly denied the allegations made by the girls. The court heard they had fallen out over an unequal amount of money he paid them.
However Mr MacKenzie said answers given by the girls during their evidence were too sophisticated to have been simply made up by children.
Sheriff Mann told the court: “I accept both girls as being credible and reliable in the evidence they gave to me, and I have little difficulty in finding Mr Millarkie guilty of both charges.”
Sentence was deferred until April 30th, and Millarkie was placed on the sex offenders register. He was released on bail.