South Scotland

Ex-Scotland rugby player Norman Pender jailed for sex abuse

Norman Pender Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption Pender was convicted of three charges of lewd behaviour and one of sexual assault

A former Scottish rugby international from Hawick has been jailed for six years for sexually abusing two young girls in the 1980s and 1990s.

Norman Pender, 65, of was convicted of three charges of lewd and libidinous behaviour and one of sexual assault. A rape charge was found not proven.

The offences were committed at various addresses in Hawick over an 11-year period.

Judge Lord Stewart told Pender: "This is a terrible fall from grace."

"These were innocent victims and you were in a position of trust," he added.

"There seems to be an unfounded belief in some quarters that you are completely innocent and these girls made up these allegations."

One of his victims, now in her 30s, said in evidence that she repeatedly told Pender "no" and tried to fight him off, but he was too strong.

She added: "I felt dirty, sick, lonely and ashamed - I knew it was wrong.

"He told me not to say anything - I was scared to tell anyone.

"He said that I was a child and that nobody would believe me."

When asked by advocate depute Alison Di Rollo, prosecuting, how often the sexual abuse took place, she replied: "Far too many times to count."

Pender abused his second young victim, who is now in her 20s, for a year.

He sexually abused her between 10 and 15 times. He told her not to say anything to anyone about what had taken place.

Pender served as a Lib Dem councillor on Scottish Borders Council between 1998 and 2003.

He was also chairman of the Hawick Lady Riders Association and campaigned for women to ride in the town's Common Riding Festival.

The prop forward, who was capped for his country in the 1970s and played for Hawick RFC, preyed on the young girls between April 1986 and October 1997.

He abused his first victim starting when she was eight until 19 and started abusing his second victim in January 1996 when she was aged nine.

The offences came to light when one of his victims went to the police.

'Wholly wrong'

Prosecutor Ms Di Rollo, who is head of the National Sexual Crimes Unit, told a jury: "This trial has shone a light on dark and disturbing secrets.

"These secrets now have been told.

"What Mr Pender did was desperately and wholly wrong.

"By silencing his two victims, in a climate of fear, he succeeded in the callous and calculated abuse of two girls."

Pender did not give evidence in court, but claimed that both his victims had made up lies about him.

Defence solicitor, advocate Iain Paterson, said that his client had been an asset to society and had raised tens of thousands of pounds for worthy causes

Mr Paterson added: "The reason he went to trial was the rape allegation against him."

At the High Court in Paisley, Pender was also placed on the sex offenders register.

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