Dying heart patient tells police she was abused as a child by a Laurieston sex predator

A woman diagnosed with a terminal heart condition revealed a sex predator subjected her to “the most horrific two weeks of her life” when she was a girl.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 16th April 2019, 3:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th April 2019, 6:14 pm

The victim, now in her 40s, did not disclose the abuse she suffered at the hands of Robert Leadbetter (74) when she was a child, but after being informed she had heart failure she told her husband and went to a police station to report the sex offender.

A month later a second woman went to Falkirk Police Station and told officers she too was a victim of Leadbetter’s sick crimes when she was a child.

Leadbetter, of Laurieston, was arrested and waived his right to a lawyer, telling police: “When you’re guilty, you’re guilty.”

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The High Court in Edinburgh

The pensioner was found to have a handwritten letter in his possession stating: “I very much regret my past behaviour, your honour. I cannot seek forgiveness as I cannot forgive myself.”

The former electrician admitted three indecency offences against the two victims committed between 1978 and 1997 in the Falkirk area, when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh today.

Leadbetter began offending against his first victim when she was aged seven and carried out sex acts on himself in front of the child.

When she was aged 12 or 13, the girl was left in Leadbetter’s care for a fortnight when her mother was hospitalised.

Advocate depute Mark McGuire told the court: “The complainer describes this period as the most horrific two weeks of her life.”

Leadbetter made the girl sleep in her mother’s bed and after going out drinking would return and get in beside her naked. She said she was too afraid to sleep and was terrified he was going to rape her.

She estimated the molestation happened about ten times over the course of the fortnight.

The victim told him she was going to call the charity Childline and tell a teacher what he was doing to her and the abuse halted.

Mr McGuire said the victim did not disclose the abuse at the time because she was so ashamed and was also afraid of Leadbetter.

The prosecutor said in 2017 the woman, now in her 40s, was diagnosed with heart failure and told her condition is terminal.

He said: “Prompted by this in June 2018 she disclosed the abuse to her husband and then attended at Falkirk police office to report it.”

Leadbetter preyed on his second victim when she was aged 14 and 15 between April 1996 and August 1997.

He began to ask the underage girl to meet up with him and picked her up in his car after high school and drove her to back roads in the Falkirk area where he would park up.

Leadbetter told her to take her top off and carried out sex acts in her presence and got her to perform sex acts on him.

Mr McGuire said: “The complainer was scared if she did not meet the accused, he would be upset or angry.”

In July last year the woman, then 36, went to Falkirk police station to report the abuse.

First offender Leadbetter told police he was ashamed of what he had done. He said he was drinking heavily during the time the offences were committed, but had since limited his use of alcohol.

Following an initial appearance at Falkirk Sheriff Court in July, Leadbetter was freed on bail with conditions not to approach or contact the victims.

His counsel Lorenzo Alonzi asked High Court judge Lord Armstrong to continue his bail ahead of sentencing next month.

High Court judge Lord Armstrong released Leadbetter on bail and ordered background reports ahead of sentencing next month.

Lord Armstrong said: “These are, of course, grave charges. On the basis you have no other criminal history and on the basis of your age and health, and the fact these offences took place many years ago, I will continue bail.”

Leadbetter was placed on the sex offenders’ register and referred to Scottish Ministers under the protection of vulnerable groups’ legislation.