High-risk’ Edinburgh-born predator John Bermingham faces life in jail for sexually abusing girls aged 8 & 14

A serial sex offender moved one step closer to a ‘life’ sentence today after a judge called for a formal risk assessment on the danger he poses to the public.

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 4:37 pm

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John Bermingham, 54, was found guilty of repeatedly subjecting under-age girls to horrific sexual abuse this year after being caged in 2002 for attempting to rape an 11-year-old girl and carrying out a sex attack on a teenage nursing assistant in the space of an hour in Edinburgh.

The High Court in Livingston heardthe latest conviction came as Bermingham was already the subject of a five year Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) and was classed in the highest category of Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) designed to manage the risks posed by serial sexual and violent offenders.

Serial sex offender John Bermingham

Judge Lord Fairley said he was in no doubt the criteria for making a risk assessment order had been met. He said he would prepare a trial judge’s report to send to an appropriate risk assessor and adjourned the case until August 30 at the High Court in Glasgow.

A jury heard that Bermingham repeatedly abused two schoolgirls aged eight and 14, exposed himself to a boy and instructed him to look at his erect penis and subjected an adult woman to attacks during which the trained boxer treated her as a "punch bag".

He was found guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh of four offences of indecent behaviour towards children and one of assault.

The Crown made a motion for the court to make a full risk assessment order in Bermingham's case, which can result in the imposition of an Order for Lifelong Restriction.

Under an OLR, the court fixes a minimum period the offender must spend in prison, but parole authorities then determine any future release taking into account public safety.

Bermingham's lawyer, Gary Allan QC, formally opposed the Crown motion on the grounds that a social work report expressed opinions which the writer was not qualified to deliver, but he was overruled by the trial judge.

The accused’s trial heard that the serial predator started abusing the girls at addresses in the Muirhouse and Pilton area of the capital in 1999 - and the torment continued over the next two years. One girl was molested by him when she was aged 14 and 15 at houses in the city.

The second girl was subjected to abuse from the age of eight until she was 10. The boy was aged 13 or 14 when Bermingham exposed himself.

But one victim told the court that she as a child heard the other girl crying, screaming and asking Bermingham to stop as he abused her at a house in England. The woman, now aged 30, said: "He would tell her to shut up."

She added that on occasions it looked like Bermingham was having having sex with the other girl, describing how he was on top of her and pulling her hair as she was crying and screaming 'stop'.

She said Bermingham had also targeted her for abuse and exposed himself to her and children camping near Loch Lomond.

The other female victim, who was abused by him at addresses in Edinburgh from the age of 14, said she would try to fight him off, but he was “easily too strong” for her. The woman, now aged 36, said Bermingham frequently targeted her for abuse.

In 2018, he breached the SOPO when he approached a woman, 59, near the Union Canal in Falkirk where she was walking a dog.

He was jailed for three years at Stirling Sheriff Court after it emerged that was carrying three different hats, two different pairs of glasses, and a spare jacket and had been 'going equipped' to change his appearance and evade police surveillance teams.

The court was told Bermingham and his family had moved to Falkirk after his release from prison and was being strictly monitored.

Under the terms of the SOPO, Bermingham, who was earlier cleared of attempting to abduct two little girls, is legally bound to avoid anything other than "incidental" conversations with women, excluding relatives.

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