A SCOUT leader who sexually assaulted three teenage girls at summer camps and in a church hall has avoided a jail sentence.

Daniel Hooton, 31, preyed on the youngsters by groping their thighs while sitting round a fire at scout camps in East Lothian and Yorkshire.

Hooton led one “terrified” victim to a secluded area of the camp and told her he loved her “more than is appropriate”.

The Scout leader also lured a 15-year-old girl to an empty room at an Edinburgh church where he pinned her against a wall and kissed her on the neck.

Hooton denied the allegations against him but was found guilty of all three sexual assaults following a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last year.

Hooton, from Stenhouse, Edinburgh, returned to the dock for sentencing on Tuesday, where Sheriff Matthew Auchincloss spared him a custodial term.

East Lothian Courier: Daniel Hooton outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court

Daniel Hooton outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court

Hooton was instead placed under the supervision of the local social work department for the next two years and had his name added to the sex offenders' register for the same length of time.

The three victims, who cannot be identified due to legal reasons, gave their evidence to the court by video link and said that Hooton targeted them at scout camps in East Lothian and Yorkshire in 2019.

The first victim said she was just 15 when Hooton touched her inappropriately as they sat around a camp fire at the site at Biel, near Dunbar, in 2019.

The girl said that Hooton touched her “a number of times” and on one occasion he had led her away to a quiet spot of the camp late at night where he told her he loved her “more than is appropriate”.

A second teenager told the court that Hooton, who has been sacked from his position as an engineer following the conviction, was “overly physical” with her at the same camp and had placed his hand on her thigh near to her groin.

She also said that on a separate occasion, Hooton had taken her to an empty room at an Edinburgh church during a scout troop meeting where he had pushed her up against a wall and kissed her on the neck.

She told the court: “It was inappropriate and I felt dirty.”

READ MOREScout leader preyed on teenage girls at summer camp

The third victim also described three occasions where the Scout leader made her “uncomfortable” due to his inappropriate touching.

She said she was aged 16 when on occasions Hooton would stroke her back as they sat around the fire before moving his hand inside the waist band of her shorts.

She said: “He was resting his hand around me and put his hand inside my top and was stroking my ribs.

“I pushed his hand away. It was uncomfortable and I didn't like him touching me that way.”

She added: “He also put his hand down my shorts a bit. He slowly moved his fingers to the inside of my shorts.

“I tucked my elbow into my side so he wouldn't be able to put his hand further down.

“I was very uncomfortable about the whole thing.”

Hooton was found guilty of sexually assaulting three teenage girls at camp sites at Biel, near Dunbar, and Helmsley, Yorkshire, and at a church hall in Edinburgh between May 1 and August 31, 2019.

Scouts Scotland has been contacted for comment.