Tayside and Central Scotland

Dunblane massacre survivor guilty of OAP rape attempt

Ryan Liddell. Pic by Central Scotland News Agency
Image caption Ryan Liddell was shot in the arm and chest by Thomas Hamilton in Dunblane in 1996

A man who survived the Dunblane massacre as a child has been found guilty of trying to rape a 76-year-old woman in her home in the town.

Ryan Liddell, 20, from Dunblane, had denied assaulting the pensioner with intent to rape after entering her home during the night on 14 June last year.

However, he was found guilty after a trial at the High Court in Dumbarton.

Liddell, who was among the 28 children who were shot by Thomas Hamilton in 1996, will be sentenced later.

After a nine-day trial, a jury of eight women and seven men at the High Court in Dumbarton took over four-and-a-half hours to find Liddell guilty by majority of assault with intent to rape and to the danger of life.

He was also found guilty, unanimously, of breaking a bail curfew.

During the trial, the court heard that Liddell had entered the retired nurse's first floor flat and hit her three times on the face, as well as kicking her.

Screams heard

A doctor who gave evidence said she had 13 injuries to her head, four injuries to her right arm and two broken teeth following the attack.

The court was also shown video evidence from the 76-year-old woman, which was recorded from her hospital bed.

She said Liddell dragged her into her bedroom and took off all her clothes, telling her he wanted to have sex.

Liddell then took the pensioner into her living room to continue the ordeal, but the woman's screams were heard by a neighbour.

The pensioner's 47-year-old daughter told the court that her mother had deteriorated both mentally and physically since the attack.

She lost her independence and is unable to feed herself because of vascular dementia, exacerbated by the attack.

Giving evidence, Liddell claimed he found the woman's door opened and had entered because he thought he might "save her" from a burglary or other ordeal.

He admitted hitting the woman and kicking her after she became "hysterical" at his presence in her home.

'Appalling attack'

Jurors were not told of Liddell's link to the 1996 massacre before reaching their verdict.

But they heard Liddell, who worked as a short-order cook at Little Chef, had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) when he was six and he had suffered sleeplessness and anxiety since he was a child - a condition which in adulthood made him semi-nocturnal.

Judge Lord Uist told Liddell: "You have been convicted by the jury of an appalling attack on an elderly, infirm lady in her own home in the middle of the night."

Sentence was deferred until 12 July at the High Court in Edinburgh for background reports, including a psychiatric report and a risk assessment.

The judge ordered that Liddell's name be placed on the sex offenders' register and remanded him in custody.

Central Scotland Police Det Insp Ronnie Isles, who led the police investigation, said after the case that Liddell had blighted the life of an elderly lady.

He said: "This was a despicable act committed against a vulnerable elderly member of our community.

"The woman was in her own home when she was assaulted - a place where you should be safe and should feel safe.

"She has lived in the Dunblane area for most of her life and is well supported by her family. This assault has blighted her life and has deeply affected her family and the immediate community."

He added: "We don't tolerate this type of behaviour and we always prioritise the protection of the most vulnerable members of our community."

'Extreme behaviour'

Liddell, who was aged five at the time of the Dunblane massacre, was shot in the chest and arm by Hamilton at Dunblane Primary School.

Hamilton turned the gun on himself after killing 16 children and their teacher on 13 March 1996.

After the verdict Dr Vince Egan, a forensic psychologist at Leicester University, said: "Liddell might have been left distressed and traumatised by the Dunblane massacre, but so would all the others involved, and nobody else has behaved like this.

"It doesn't provide any excuse for what he did to that elderly lady, and post traumatic stress syndrome isn't going to lead to a reaction like this 15 years on.

"This is certainly the most extreme behaviour I've heard from anyone after a traumatic event."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites