Former senior Scottish lawyer John Watt jailed for ten years for sexual abuse offences against four children

A former senior Scottish lawyer has been jailed for ten years after committing a catalogue of sexual abuse against four young children more than four decades ago.

John Watt QC, who acted as a criminal defence counsel and served as a prosecutor, preyed on three girls and one boy in offences committed over a 14-year period.

Watt, 72, was extradited from America to stand trial earlier this year and was found guilty of one charge of rape, one of indecent assault and three of indecent conduct committed at houses in the Edinburgh area between September 1973 and August 1987.

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Edinburgh High Court where John Watt was sentenced. Picture: NationalWorld

A judge told the sex offender at the High Court in Edinburgh: "The offences committed by you were of the utmost seriousness and gravity."

Lord Braid said: "In each case the offences have had a profound and life-changing effect on the victims."

The judge said Watt continued to maintain his innocence over the vile historical abuse and added that perhaps explained why he had not demonstrated any remorse or empathy for his victims.

Lord Braid said: "In your role as advocate depute [Crown Office prosecutor] you prosecuted the very type of offence of which you have now been convicted."

Watt's first sex crime was committed at an address in the West End of Edinburgh on a girl who was aged under 12 who was subjected to a rape ordeal.

Two other girls were later molested by him in their beds at a house in Edinburgh and a ten-year-old boy was subjected to penetrative sexual abuse at an address in Leith by Watt in 1987.

The female rape victim told his trial her father, who was also a lawyer, took her to see Watt at a house in Edinburgh. The woman, now aged 55, said: "I did things to the man which he made me do."

Two sisters told the trial how their lawyer father often hosted gatherings at their home where Watt and others would be present.

One described waking up to find Watt at her bedside before he got in beside her and began touching her inappropriately. Her sister saw him in the bed and recalled being "frightened", but the advocate then turned on her and subjected her to abuse.

The court heard their father had subsequently reported Watt to a senior lawyer, who later became a judge, instead of going to police.

The male victim told the court: "I was raped by John Watt. I remember him coming in the room and I remember him telling me to turn over."

Defence counsel Donald Findlay QC told the court Watt would lodge an appeal. He said Watt "in common with any decent individual deplores the type of conduct that is referred to in these charges".

Mr Findlay said: "He is a first offender. He is still one of Her Majesty's counsel in Scotland."

Watt gave up the law in Scotland and moved to Oklahoma in 1995 and did some work for his wife's real estate agency before armed police detained him ahead of extradition proceedings.

Watt was told he would be placed on the sex offenders' register for an indeterminate period.

Following the sentencing, two sisters said in a statement addressed to Watt: "Having been found guilty, I think you should know that you picked the wrong kid. Because there are no wrong kids. Only kids who are too young to have the power to do anything about it."