Man who denied sexually assaulting 91-year-old woman facing jail

The man appeared at Stirling Sheriff Court. Picture: Google

The man appeared at Stirling Sheriff Court. Picture: Google

A MAN who put a 91-year-old great-grandmother through a two day court ordeal by denying he had sexually assaulted her is facing jail.

Eric Fleming befriended the “posh, lonely, blind widow”, and talked himself into the old lady’s home in Falkirk, Stirlingshire, bringing regular deliveries of fish and chips.

But the woman, who will be 92 on Monday (Sept 5th) and is also partly deaf and disabled, said the 68-year-old surveyor’s behaviour then turned “appalling” and he began to interfere with her.

She said: “He used to come to see me. It was friendly to begin with, then he changed.”

The nonagenarian, who spent nearly two days giving evidence and being cross-examined via a video link, told Stirling Sheriff Court how Fleming had visited her on July 30th last year (2015), and “stripped off” in her downstairs living room, where she’d had a bed installed since she was no longer able to climb stairs.

Her voice shook as she said: “He was naked.

“I could tell by touch.

“He came into contact with me and it wasn’t nice.

“It was horrible.”

She told prosecutor Sarah Lumsden that Fleming had “taken advantage” of her.

She added: “I didn’t like it at all, but what could I do? - I couldn’t fight him.”

Fleming was unmasked after his abuse of the old lady was discovered by chance by two carers.

Falkirk Council worker Linda Pauley, 32, who with a colleague was paying a regular evening visit to give the old lady her tea at a slightly later time than usual, heard a slamming door as soon as they entered her three-bedroomed villa.

They realised there was a man in her room, who turned out to be Fleming.

He was shouting in a “panicky” voice: “Don’t come in.”

Thinking the old lady was being robbed, her colleague phoned police, and they both pushed the door open.

They found Fleming naked to the waist, pulling on his trousers.

Ms Pauley said: “It was a shocking scene to walk in on.

“Every bit of his body I could see was red.

“His skin was dripping with sweat.

“Even his arms were bright red, as if he had run a marathon, and he was puffed out.”

Fleming told her: “It’s not what it looks like. I was giving her a leg massage.”

The carer said: “I screeched with horror and said, ‘What, like, naked?’”

She added: “My initial thought was that she had been getting raped.”

Fleming, of Brightons, Falkirk, denied wrongdoing and alleged that the old lady had consented to sexual activity.

Smiling and speaking softly in the witness box, he claimed that he had started a relationship with the victim after his wife died in 2007, but she had insisted it was kept secret because he was the same age as her son.

But after a trial that lasted a week, a jury of nine men and six women found him guilty of sexual assault.

Sheriff Wyllie Robertson deferred sentence until September 27th for a criminal justice social work report and a risk assessment, and remanded him in custody.

Fleming, who worked for the National Coal Board and then Barratt Homes before his retirement, was placed on the sex offender’s register.

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