Ex-US marine jailed for sexual abuse of children

Ledbetter appeared at Glasgow High Court today
Ledbetter appeared at Glasgow High Court today

A former US marine living in Falkirk has been jailed for 12 years after being convicted of the horrific sexual abuse of two boys and a girl.

The crimes by 51-year-old James Ledbetter took place in the USA and Scotland over a 14-year period.

At the High Court in Glasgow on Friday, judge Lord Burns also ordered Ledbetter to be monitored in the community for five years after his release from custody.

Lord Burns told Ledbetter: “The jury convicted you of very serious sexual abuse on three children over a period of 14 years.

“One boy was abused from the age of six. It is impossible to estimate the consequences your actions will have on these unfortunate individuals.”

Although the majority of the offences took place in Texas between 1997 and 2005, a deal was struck between US prosecutors and the Crown Office that the case should be tried in Scotland.

The court was told that Ledbetter is likely to be deported back to the USA after he serves his prison sentence.

Speaking outside the court a spokesman for the victims said: “We will be writing letters to try to ensure he is deported as soon as he leaves prison.

“The public has to realise how much of a danger this man is to children. He should be sent back to the USA.”

Defence QC Ian Duguid said: “Mr Ledbetter will almost certainly be deported. I think it is almost inevitable.

“He will be a much older man when he gets out of prison. He accepts that these offences will have have caused traumatic experiences for all three children concerned.

“Mr Ledbetter’s position now is that he accepts some of the abuse, but not all of it.

“He says his recollection of events in unclear because he had a drink problem from 1994 to 2014.”

Ledbetter, who worked as a security guard denied all the charges against him in court and claimed his victims were lying but was convicted during an earlier trial.

One victim aged between six and 12 was, on various occasions, plied with alcohol before being sexually abused.

Ledbetter showed another young victim, aged between 11 and 13, pornographic films before abusing him.