A TRUCK driver who was forced to flee his Prestonpans home by protesters after admitting sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl has escaped a jail sentence.

John Boyd forced himself on the youngster by kissing her on the mouth and fondling her after luring the girl into a bedroom at her home.

Boyd, 54, also sent the schoolgirl WhatsApp messages and texts declaring his love for her and telling her she was “beautiful”.

Boyd, who has two previous convictions for similar offences, told his victim that he wanted to take her out on dates to the cinema and for her to pretend she was his girlfriend during online chats.

And after Boyd pleaded guilty to the sexual assault during a court appearance last month, he was forced from his home following protests from angry locals.

The house on the town’s Drummore Drive was subsequently boarded up to avoid vandalism and remains empty.

The father-of-two returned to the dock for sentencing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today (Friday), where he was placed on the sex offenders' register for three years.

Sheriff John Mundy said: “Somewhat unusually given the nature [of the offence] and given your record, there is a very positive recommendation within the [social work] report for a community-based order.

“I have to weigh all that up and I’ve got to look at the protection of the public and also look at the question of your rehabilitation.

“I think that is best achieved by imposing a non-custodial sentence.”

Boyd was placed on a community payback order containing three years of supervision and was ordered to attend appointments with the specialist sex offender organisation CISSO.

Previously, the court heard that Boyd and his wife were friends of the girl’s mother and he began communicating with the youngster after asking for her phone number.

The predator sent the girl disturbing messages between June and August last year, including one that read: “I am in bed dreaming of you.”

Fiscal depute Anna Robertson said that the texts also included “I love your lips, they are so kissable”, and “I can’t wait to hold you in my arms”.

He also told her he wanted to take her out on dates and that she should “get her hair and make up done” beforehand.

And when Boyd and his wife were visiting the girl’s mother in August last year, he enticed her upstairs to a bedroom where he lifted her off the ground.

He then squeezed her buttocks, gave her “a long, long kiss” on the mouth and neck, and sucked on her bottom lip.

Ms Robertson added: “The accused told the complainer she was a good kisser and then said: ‘I will go to jail if you tell as I’m too old.'”

After Boyd and his wife left the home, the terrified girl broke down in tears and confessed to her mother what had happened while she had been alone with Boyd and the police were called in.

On Friday, solicitor Jim Stephenson said that despite his client’s previous offending, he had now “taken responsibility” for his latest crime.

The lawyer added that Boyd had recently lost his job as an HGV driver and was “very fearful” of further reprisals from the local community.

Boyd pleaded guilty to sending written sexual communication to a 10-year-old girl for the purposes of obtaining sexual gratification and stating he would like to kiss her, touch her, ask her to send him photographs of herself, referring to taking her on holiday and making reference to her as his girlfriend at an address in Midlothian between June 28 and August 5 last year.

He also admitted sexually assaulting the girl by placing his arms around her, lifting her body off the ground, squeezing her buttocks and repeatedly kissing her on the mouth and sucking her bottom lip at the same address on August 5 last year.