A MUSSELBURGH man has been placed on the sex offenders’ register after he admitted sexually assaulting a young girl. . . about 50 years ago.

James Paget, 63, pulled down the clothing of the child, who was between five and seven years old at the time, looked at her private area and exposed himself to her.

Paget also induced the youngster to touch his manhood and he rubbed himself against her private area at an address in Craigmillar, Edinburgh, on various occasions between August 1, 1972, and December 10 the following year.

Paget, who was aged between 12 and 13 when the offending took place, also pleaded guilty to lying on top of the girl while she was in a bath and rubbing his manhood on her body.

The offence did not come to light until decades later, when the victim confronted Paget about what he had done and recorded their conversation before going to the police.

Paget, of Kilwinning Place, appeared for sentencing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last Friday, where Sheriff Donald Corke told him that he had pleaded guilty to “a very serious charge” which had amounted to “a gross breach of trust”.

The sheriff said: “You have pled guilty by way of Section 76 to a single charge on indictment. The child was between five and seven years old at the time.

“Your behaviour took place over four months and this was a gross breach of trust in [their] home where they were entitled to feel safe.

“The victim impact statement makes it entirely clear this had a devastating impact [on her].

“Nonetheless, I cannot ignore your own age at the time or the social work park report and you also appear before me as a first offender at the age of 63.”

The sheriff noted that there were “no risk factors” in the report and, though the “custody threshold has been passed”, the sheriff said that he would impose a sentence that was a direct alternative to custody.

Paget was placed on the sex offenders’ register and under the supervision of the local social work department for the next nine months.

Sheriff Corke also imposed a five-year non-harassment order banning Paget from approaching or contacting the woman involved.

Lawyer Stuart Carson, representing Paget, told the court that his client acknowledged he had done “a terrible thing” and “it is something he is very remorseful for”.

Mr Carson said that Paget had “carried the guilt for 50 years now” and at the time of the offending he was “going through puberty”.

Mr Carson told the court that the victim had asked to meet up with Paget and, even though he thought she was recording their conversation, “he was still prepared to admit what he did and to apologise for it”.

He was then contacted by the police two weeks later, where he was said to have been “fully open” with the officers.

The solicitor added that Paget and the woman had been in regular contact with each other over the years since the offences but there had been “a deterioration in the relationship” about four years ago.

Paget pleaded guilty to using indecent, lewd and libidinous practices towards a child at an address in Edinburgh between August 1, 1972, and December 10, 1973.