A COUNTY man who avoided prison last year for sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl has been jailed after prosecutors appealed his sentence.

John Boyd groped and kissed the young schoolgirl after luring her to a bedroom during a visit to her home with his wife in 2019.

Boyd, 54, also sent the girl WhatsApp messages saying, “I am in bed dreaming of you”, “I love your lips, they are so kissable” and “I can’t wait to hold you in my arms”.

The HGV driver pleaded guilty to two charges when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last October and, despite this being his third conviction for similar offending, avoided a jail term.

Sheriff John Mundy placed Boyd on a supervision order and on the sex offenders’ register for three years and said he must attend appointments with the specialist sex offender organisation CISSO.

The sentence was subsequently appealed by the Crown and last Wednesday it was announced that appeal judges had reversed the original sentence.

Boyd, from Prestonpans, has now been jailed for 12 months and placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

The appeal judgement delivered by Lord Pentland stated: “We consider that the sheriff has failed to recognise the gravity, deliberation and persistence of the grooming of the child.

“This extended to repeated use of sexual language, such as holding her in his arms, to her lips being kissable, to his dreaming how soft her lips are, and to other similar statements.

“Moreover, the clear aim underlying the grooming was to enable the respondent to gain access to the child in private with the intention, it may be inferred, of sexually abusing her.

“The sentence contained no punitive element, it contained no real element of deterrence and it seriously underestimated the gravity of the present offences.

“In these circumstances, we are satisfied that the case was one in which the custody threshold was clearly passed.

“We are satisfied that the sentence was unduly lenient.

“We shall quash the sentence imposed by the sheriff and in its place substitute a sentence of 12 months’ imprisonment.

“The respondent will remain subject to the notification requirements applicable to sex offenders for a period of 10 years.”

A Crown Office spokesperson said: “We note the decision of the appeal court.”

Previously, prosecutor Anna Robertson had told Edinburgh Sheriff Court that Boyd and his wife were at the girl’s home in August 2019.

During the visit, Boyd enticed the girl to an upstairs bedroom where he then lifted her off the ground and squeezed her buttocks.

The father-of-two then gave the girl “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.

It was then discovered that the truck driver had been sending the youngster disturbing texts saying he wanted her to be his girlfriend and they should go out on dates.

The court also heard that Boyd had two previous convictions for similar offences involving girls aged 10 and 15, one dating from 2001.

Following last year’s court appearance, Boyd was forced to flee after angry residents protested outside his home in Prestonpans.

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 and touch her, asking her to send him photographs of herself, referring to taking her on holiday and making reference to her as his girlfriend between June 28 and August 5, 2019.

He also admitted sexually assaulting the girl, 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 on August 5, 2019.