Brightons man found guilty of rape and sexual abuse charges

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A Brightons man has been convicted of raping a nine-year old girl and sexually abusing her and her little sister.

A jury at the High Court in Livingston took four hours to return their verdicts finding 35-year-old William Russell guilty of three sexual offences.

Russell, from Brightons, was remanded in custody for background reports to be prepared before judge Lord Burns passes sentence at the High Court in Aberdeen on June 21.

Lord Burns added Russell’s name to the sex offenders register with immediate effect and told him Scottish ministers would be notified of his conviction under protection of vulnerable adults legislation.

The accused’s wife – mother of his two children – broke down in tears and was taken from the courtroom sobbing loudly as G4S officers took Russell down to the cells.

During the four-day trial, the younger girl, now 21-year-old, gave evidence neither she nor her 24-year-old sister had told anyone what they allegedly suffered at William Russell’s hands 15 years ago.

It was only when they had a long talk about the “nightmares” each of them was experiencing last year that they realised.

A woman and her sister claimed Russell sexually abused them when he acted as their babysitter between April 2003 and April 2005.

He had denied raping the older sister at her family home in a Stirlingshire village when she was aged between nine and 10, and using lewd, indecent and libidinous practices towards her and her younger sister when she reached the same age.

The older sister gave evidence that Russell, who moved in with her family for a short time, raped her twice and forced her to perform a sex act on him in the bathroom.

Both women told how he forced them to touch his genitals and masturbate him and both testified that he wakened them by touching them sexually and undressing them.

One of the girls said: “When I was younger I didn’t think anything of it but as I got older I realised it wasn’t right, exposing himself to a young child.”

“I woke up wearing just my vest and my pants. I couldn’t find my pyjamas anywhere. I was frightened.”

The two sisters each kept the abuse to themselves until last year when one of them confided in her sister during a phone call.

She told the jury: “She was talking to me about the nightmares and I told her that I thought it was a nightmare what happened with William.

“She opened up and told me it had happened to her too. I told her about the night in the toy room and the night in the living room.

“I told my husband the same night. I never went into detail.”

She said she and her sister agreed to report the abuse to the police together, but her husband did it for them when she was at work.

Both finally made police statements in March 2017 accusing Russell of historic sexual abuse.

Russell claimed in his defence that both women were lying and said he had no idea why they had made the allegations against him.