Dunblane survivor attempted to rape OAP

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A SURVIVOR of the Dunblane massacre is facing a lengthy jail sentence for attacking a 76-year-old woman with intent to rape her.

Ryan Liddell was only five when he was shot by gunman Thomas Hamilton, who stormed into his primary one gym class at Dunblane Primary School and murdered 16 of his classmates and his teacher.

Fifteen other children, including Liddell, another teacher, and a classroom assistant, survived.

Now aged 20, Liddell was yesterday found guilty of committing a violent sex attack on the committed Christian, retired nurse, and grandmother of two, after barging into her ground floor flat in Dunblane, Perthshire, tearing off her clothes and saying he wanted sex.

After a trial that ran to nine days, a jury of eight women and seven men at the High Court in Dumbarton took over four and a half hours to find Liddell, of Anderson Street, Dunblane, guilty by majority of assault with intent to rape and to the danger of life. He had denied the charge.

He was also found guilty of breaking a bail curfew.

Jurors were not told of Liddell's tragic link to the 1996 massacre before reaching their verdict, but they were told of its effects. They heard that Liddell had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when he was six - just a year after being pulled bleeding from the gym and asking his heartbroken mother: "Mummy, am I going to die?"

They heard he had suffered sleeplessness and anxiety since he was a child - a condition which in adulthood made him semi-nocturnal.

Liddell, who worked as a short-order cook at a local restaurant, had been walking the streets of Dunblane at 4am on 14 June last year when he spotted his victim's door ajar and went into her home.

In what advocate depute Jennifer Bain, prosecuting, described as a "senseless and brutal" assault, he pretended he was her carer and there to give her a shower, before punching the elderly woman repeatedly and kicking her on the head as she lay on the ground.

He dragged the victim to her bedroom and said he wanted to have sex with her.But Liddell was forced to flee when the woman's neighbours, alerted by muffled screams, ran downstairs to find her lying in her living room in a pool of blood.

The judge, Lord Uist, told Liddell he had been found guilty of an "appalling" crime.

He deferred sentence for background reports until 20 July at the High Court in Edinburgh and ordered that Liddell's name be placed on the sex offenders' register.

He remanded him in custody and thanked the jury for taking part in what he called "a most distressing trial".

He 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."

The court heard that Liddell had convictions for housebreaking and breach of the peace.

Liddell described himself as "an idiot" and "naive". On the night of the incident, he was "blitzed" after sharing two bottles of vodka and beers with other youngsters in woods near Dunblane High School. After the attack, he went to his flat and washed his bloodied clothes.

When approached by police the next day, he said he knew nothing about the attack.

He later told police that he had gone inside the woman's house to "see what it was like".

Word quickly spread around Dunblane about what he had done and, while out on bail, his windows were smashed, his car was vandalised and his friends abandoned him.

Friends and family described Liddell's victim as friendly and outgoing before the attack but said since the incident she had "deteriorated dramatically both mentally and physically".

The woman did not give evidence in court but in interviews taped a week after the attack, she said she thought she was going to die, and that a man who looked like the devil had wanted to have sex with her.

As the verdict was announced, the woman's daughter, on the public benches, wiped away a tear. Afterwards, the victim's family said they did not wish to speak about the case.

On the day of the Dunblane massacre, Liddell's mother, Alison Curry, found him lying on the school gym floor with bullet wounds to his arm and chest. She said then: "He had a bullet hole in his arm like a volcano, and a bandage around his middle. He asked, 'Am I going to die?' and I told him 'No'."

Det Insp Ronnie Isles said: "This was a despicable act against a vulnerable, elderly member of our community."