A CONVICTED child sex offender who joined a local church group and befriended young girls has been jailed.

Gordon Sanderson was caught dancing with one youngster after he became involved with a church in Musselburgh last year.

Sanderson picked the child up and swung her around while also encouraging the girl to wrap her legs around his waist and place her arms around his shoulders.

He was also caught in the company of an 11-year-old girl during a trip to Edinburgh Castle after he had volunteered to drive the church minibus to the world-famous tourist attraction.

Sanderson, of North Berwick, has a long history of sexually abusing children and has been jailed on numerous occasion in the past for sexual offences against women and children.

He was placed on a Sexual Offenders Prevention Order (SOPO) in 2015 and conditions included being banned from forming relationships with anyone without prior approval from his supervising officer.

Sanderson was jailed for 16 months in January for breaching the SOPO after he admitted befriending women and children at the church and on days out at the National Museum of Flight, near East Fortune.

Now the 61-year-old is back behind bars after he admitted speaking and communicating with two children on separate occasions last year.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told that Sanderson had been “effectively chased out of the community” in his home town of North Berwick and had been forced to travel to Musselburgh to join a church.

Prosecutor Clare Kennedy said that Sanderson attended a group at the church and volunteered to drive a group of adults and children on a trip to Edinburgh Castle last September.

Ms Kennedy said that a father took his children on the trip and during the excursion he noticed his 11-year-old girl was missing from the group.

The fiscal added: “He became separated from his daughter and also noticed Mr Sanderson was not present at this time.

“He looked for her and eventually found her at the Regimental Museum in the company of Mr Sanderson.”

The fiscal also said that Sanderson, who appeared in court from custody, was found in the company of a young girl during a church session in June last year.

Ms Kennedy said Sanderson was caught chatting to the girl, who was aged about seven, before he began dancing with her despite no music being played.

Sanderson picked the girl up and swung her round while she clamped her legs around his waist and placed her arms around his shoulders.

Witnesses saw Sanderson “spin the girl around a number of times and then put her down”.

Lawyer Stephen Knowles, defending, said his client was in regular contact with his offenders management team and they knew about his involvement with the church.

Mr Knowles said that Sanderson, a former East Lothian Council worker, had been chased out of the local community in North Berwick following his convictions being made public but he continued to have a residence in the town.

The lawyer added that Sanderson wanted to “continue practising his faith” and had joined the church in Musselburgh as he was “quite a lonely person”.

Sheriff John Cook acknowledged that the latest offences pre-dated his last custodial sentence but said a further prison term was “entirely appropriate”.

Sheriff Cook sentenced Sanderson to a six-month jail sentence.

Sanderson admitted breaching his SOPO by speaking and communicating with an 11-year-old girl at Edinburgh Castle on September 14 last year.

He also pleaded guilty to breaching his SOPO by speaking and communicating with a seven-year-old girl at a church in Musselburgh on June 10 last year.