Sheriff Refers Child Sex Case For Tougher Sentencing

A man who had sex with two under-aged girls will face a tougher sentence at the High Court after a sheriff said the powers at his disposal were “woefully inadequate”.

Steven Brodie, 29, from Edinburgh, had previously admitted having sex with the girls, aged 13 and 15.

Yesterday, at Wick Sheriff Court, Sheriff Andrew Berry, who said he could hand down only a maximum sentence of five years, referred the case to the High Court to be dealt with.

The court had earlier heard that Brodie had spent two nights sleeping with the 13-year-old in her bedroom in Caithness, unknown to her mother.

He had groomed the girl last year after she logged on to an internet chat room via her mobile phone.

They swapped numbers and began texting each other, exchanging 200 messages. The girl had believed initially that she was in contact with a boy her own age. Brodie eventually confessed his true age and in November 2006 drove to her home. He waited until her mother left for work and then had sex with the girl.

He stayed in her bed that evening unknown to her mother. The following morning he hid in the house while the girl went to school, but told teachers she had a dental appointment.

Brodie picked her up in his car and drove her home, where they had sex on a number of occasions throughout the day. He again spent the night in her bed. They also met for sex on other occasions at her home and at a car park.

Brodie returned to Edinburgh, but despite exchanging text messages, his interest in the girl waned. A short time later one of the girl’s friends informed her mother, who contacted the police.

They discovered that Brodie had also met a 15-year-old girl in the Highlands through an internet chat room and had sex with her at a bed and breakfast in Inverness in January. Brodie claimed he had thought the girl was 16.

Neil Wilson, defending, said: “There is nothing I can say about the defendant that is going to make it any better.

“The majority of the remorse that Brodie felt was directed inwards rather than for his victims. He has not got to the stage where he can see what he had done is so wrong.

“Before the offences, he had been in a relationship which ended in tragic circumstances. He was upset by that and that could be a cause for what he has done.”

Sheriff Berry described the crimes as “appalling” and placed Brodie on the sex offenders’ register, telling him: “I find it difficult you don’t acknowledge any degree of grooming, preplanning or premeditation.

“If that is what you think, then this case is even more disturbing. It is my view that a period of five years imprisonment is probably woefully inadequate and, in that case, it is remitted to the High Court for sentence.”

Yesterday, the mother of the younger victim said: “I would like to have had some closure today for my daughter’s sake. However, I can only applaud the sheriff’s decision.”

She added: “People like Brodie can access our daughters through the internet and they know how to communicate with teenage girls.”