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Man, 63, guilty of pool assaults

By Newsdesk
Dumfries and West
Man, 63, guilty of pool assaults

A 63-year-old man has been found guilty of three charges of sexually assaulting youngsters in the swimming pool at the showpiece DG1 leisure centre in Dumfries.

The offences, involving swimming in the direction of the children, took place in March, May and September 2014 before the complex was closed for repair work.
Staff at the pool told the court at Dumfries that they had been alerted to the “out of the ordinary” behaviour displayed by Kenneth Starks, of Manse Gardens, Strachur, Argyll and Bute.
And evidence was heard that on the three occasions it was found that Starks changed the direction of his swimming and headed towards the youngsters and touched them – two on the buttocks and one on the stomach.
Throughout a two-day trial this week, Starks had maintained a plea of not guilty to the offences as well as a breach of the peace charge and said he felt persecuted by staff at the centre.
However, he was also found guilty of the breach of the peace charge by conducting himself in a disorderly manner between March and September. It related to standing watching children, walking around in the changing room while children were present when it wasn’t necessary for him to do so, standing as if using an empty locker in order to be close to children, watching for children going to the toilets, following them into the toilets, and while swimming changing direction in order to swim into groups of children and attempting to touch them.
Leisure staff told the court that because of Starks behaviour it had been decided they should be keeping an eye on him and one described how he had seen Starks change his direction in the water put out his arm and touch a youngster on the buttocks.
Another said that one afternoon she had seen Starks following children into the toilets every 15 minutes, as each swimming lesson finished, and wondered if there was something wrong with his bladder.
A solicitor for Starks pointed out that no one gave evidence of concerns at Starks’ behaviour other than employees and no children gave evidence.
But Sheriff Brian Mohan said he was satisfied from the evidence that these events had taken place.
He called for background reports and deferred sentence to May 4 and placed Starks on the sex offenders’ register.

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