Former teacher guilty of abusing pupils

A former Shetland primary school teacher has been told to expect a jail term after being found guilty of historic sexual offences on six of his pupils.

A jury in Peterhead took just 30 minutes to convict Stephen Tait on all six charges of lewd, indecent and libidinous behaviour towards six boys.

Tait had been employed as a probationary teacher more than a decade ago at a school in Shetland.

After the verdict was returned, it was revealed that in 2012 Tait was convicted of sexually assaulting two boys while he was a teacher in Fife.

And in 2013 he was convicted at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court after 57 indecent images of children were found on his computer.

The court was told his offences on Shetland pre-dated those crimes.

Fiscal depute Ruaridh McAllister urged the jury to convict Tait and told them he had taken advantage of his power and authority as the boys’ teacher and had managed to “inveigle” his way into their lives.

Mr McAllister said: “He sexually abused these boys. It took place when they were aged eight and nine and they did not fully feel the magnitude of what had taken place until later when they were adults.

“Stephen Tait wants you to think they were all lying to you, but the only person lying in this court is Stephen Tait.

“It took the spark of one boy coming forward in 2020 and going to the police.

“At the time they thought Tait’s behaviour was a bit weird but, looking back on it as adults, realised it wasn’t right.

“Tait gained their trust and friendship by being the cool, fun new teacher – but a far more sinister picture emerged.

“He manipulated these boys and they trusted him. There is no hint or any logical explanation as to why they are lying about this.

“They are telling their truth with the benefit of hindsight and growing up. They were abused by this man.”

All six victims, who cannot be named, gave evidence either in person, via a pre-recorded video, or remotely from Lerwick.

The jury of four women and eleven men found Tait guilty of all six charges by unanimous decision.

Tait’s defence agent Colin Nielson said Tait had not re-offended since “that he was aware of”.

Sheriff Ian Wallace deferred sentencing for reports but said: “The evidence was overwhelming, and this is a very serious sexual offence committed against children in your care as their teacher.

“This is the second time you have been convicted for such an offence – and given the severity of charge six and your previous conviction I will be considering a custodial sentence in this case.”

Tait was found guilty of touching the six boys sexually and forcing some to remove their clothes. One was molested on the private parts and several spoke of being stroked or caressed on the bottom while they stood at his desk.

Tait also bought swimming trunks and forced one child to put them on while they were alone together in a classroom cupboard and made the boys discuss “intimate and personal” details about their bodies.

Tait, whose address was given as St Albans Road, Lytham St Annes, must return to Aberdeen Sheriff Court on 15th April for sentencing. His name will be added to the sex offenders register.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.