Former teacher jailed for abusing pupils

A former Shetland primary school teacher has been jailed for historic sex offences against six of his pupils.

Stephen Tait, 41, was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Aberdeen Sheriff Court today (Monday) after being found guilty of lewd, indecent and libidinous behaviour towards six boys.

A jury took just 30 minutes to find Tait, who had denied the charges, guilty at a trial last month.

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 offences took place at a Shetland school prior to those crimes.

All six boys gave evidence during the trial either in person, by pre-recorded video or via remote link from Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Tait was jailed for 30 months and put on the sex offenders register.

Today, Sheriff Ian Wallace described his offending as “ongoing, planned behaviour against children”.

He told the serial sex offender: “It was made more serious in that it was committed by you, a teacher, against young children who were in your care.

“It was a serious breach of trust and the seriousness of it and the potential harm caused would have been obvious to you.

“The evidence against you was clear and compelling and the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty.”

Tait’s defence solicitor Colin Neilson had earlier told the court that his client’s offending was “serious for a number of reasons … not least the breach of trust” and the impact on his victims, which he said would be “lasting”.

“Though hopefully, they will be able to go on to live productive lives,” he added.

Mr Neilson said Tait had been living “a rather isolated existence” and that it had been 12 years since his last conviction in 2012.

“Mr Tait accepts that it’s inevitable that a custodial sentence will be imposed today and perhaps that will be sufficient,” the solicitor told the court before he was sentenced.

Speaking after today’s sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Craig Still said: “Stephen Tait abused his position of trust as a teacher, and I would commend the victims for coming forward and reporting his behaviour to us.

“Investigating events that have happened in the past can present challenges and it can sometimes only be with hindsight that people recognise that what happened to them was abuse.

“Police Scotland has highly trained, specialist officers, across the country who can investigate such offences and, working with partners, ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.

“We are committed to investigating all reports regardless of when abuse happened, where it took place or who was involved.

“We will listen, we will investigate, and we will take prompt action to ensure that no-one else is at risk of harm.‎

“We would ask anyone wishing to report abuse to contact us on 101.”


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