Sep 7 2012 Ayrshire Post (main ed)
A PENSIONER admitted a vile string of sex abuse charges more than 30 years after he preyed on children as young as four.
Francis Joseph South, 70, pled guilty to four charges of lewd, indecent and libidinous practices towards four children between January 1, 1977 and December 30, 1984
The abuse remained hidden until one of his victims, now 38, contacted the police last September.
This led to another victim coming forward when she realised South had been charged.
Soon after being interviewed by officers, the pervert, of Kirk Street, Prestwick, made a full admission, saying he always expected his crimes to catch up with him, and also admitted abusing another two children.
Fiscal Depute Imran Bashir told Hamilton Sheriff Court on Friday the four victims were known to South, playing near and in his former home in StLeonards.
South was also known as a first aider and the person who local youngsters would go to with cut knees or other minor injuries.
One of his victims, who was just four-years-old when the abuse began in 1977 in South’s living room.
South also subjected the victim to abuse in a caravan next to his St Leonards home.
Mr Bashir went on to describe how the samevictim recalled an incident at Hamilton Ice Rink, where she went from age five to seven.
South, who was a steward at the ice rink, took the victim to the first aid room and told her to take off her jeans.
Mr Bashir also told the court another of South’s victims, who is now 42, was nine or 10 when she was abused.
He described how she was with other children when South told everyone, except her, to go out and play.
He told her to kneel on the couch and look at the other girls playing.
Mr Bashir described how the same victim was in South’s kitchen duringanother incident.
The fiscal went on todescribe how two other victims, now aged 36 and 37 were abused by South at his St Leonard’s home and in a neighbouring property.
In a victim impact statement read out by the fiscal, the 38-year-old who first contacted police described how South “stole her innocence” whilst another victim said South had “damaged a little girl for the rest of her life”.
South’s defence solicitor said her client was “extremely remorseful and had been riddled with guilt for many years”.
Sheriff Ray Small deferred sentence until September 25 for reports and placed South on the sex offenders register.
He told South, who was detained in custody: “You have pled guilty to disgraceful and inappropriate behaviour towards young girls over a sustained period of time. This was a breach of trust and despite your age and lack of previous convictions a custodial sentence will be seriously considered.”