Perthshire church elder sexually assaulted elderly parishioners

Perth Sheriff Court,  Pic Ian Rutherford
Perth Sheriff Court, Pic Ian Rutherford

A church elder who carried out numerous sex attacks on elderly parishioners he was supposed to be helping has been warned he faces being jailed.

Ronald Allstaff, 73, carried out more than 20 sex attacks on members of the congregation including an 89-year-old woman who had to fight him off.

Married Allstaff, who had been an elder at the Perthshire church for several years, was warned he is likely to be jailed for his predatory and persistent sex offending.

At Perth Sheriff Court yesterday, Sheriff William Wood said: “I would have to say a custodial sentence is uppermost in my mind at the moment.

“Clearly he has behaved in a particularly predatory and manipulative way over an extended period which seems to me might make a custodial sentence the only appropriate one.”

Sentence on Allstaff, from Bridge of Earn, was deferred for the preparation of reports and consideration of the imposition of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order against him. His details were added to the Sex Offenders Register.

Allstaff was initially charged with sexually assaulting three women but admitted offences against two of them after the court heard the third had died since reporting him.

He admitted sexually assaulting and pushing an 89-year-old woman on three occasions between 1 May and 24 November last year.

He also admitted carrying out several sex attacks on a 72-year-old woman between 1 April and 30 November last year. A charge relating to the third woman, now deceased, was dropped by the Crown.

Fiscal depute Michael Sweeney told the court: “He is retired and carries out duties as a church elder. Through his position with the church he is allowed by parishioners into their property to ensure their welfare and act as a support mechanism.

“Through his work with the church he knows the complainers.” Mr Sweeney said some parishioners were paying Allstaff money to carry out small jobs for them.

The prosecutor said Allstaff attacked the oldest victim without warning while he was alone with her at her home and groped and fondled her.

As he groped the shocked pensioner’s breasts, he said: “What do we have here? This is just a bit of fun. You have a pair of beauties.” The victim pushed him off.

She was distressed and tried to dismiss his attack as a one-off, but he returned and sexually assaulted her twice more. On one occasion, he pushed her away from a window and said he did not want anyone to see what he was doing.