Aug 24 2011 by Stephen Robertson, Stirling Observer Wednesday
A SURVIVOR of the Dunblane tragedy was warned this week that he could face a life sentence for a brutal sex attack on a 76-year-old woman in her home.
Ryan Liddell (20) committed the sickening assault with intent to rape the woman in Dunblane on June 14 last year.
A judge told Liddell at the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday that he considered a full risk assessment order should be carried out on him.
That assessment can lead to an order for lifelong restriction. Under such a life sentence, reserved for the most serious sex and violence cases short of murder, a judge fixes a minimum term the offender must serve before he can be released.
But any decision to free the offender is taken by the parole board and if released he is kept under supervision.
Lord Uist told Liddell: “In view of the circumstances of the crime of which you were convicted and the terms of the social enquiry and psychiatric reports on you which I have received, I consider that the risk criteria may be met in your case.”
The judge ordered that Liddell should be held in Polmont Young Offenders Institution while a report is prepared on the risk he poses to the public at large if at liberty.
During the brutal attack Liddell pretended he was there as a carer for his victim.
He punched her repeatedly and kicked her on the head while she was on the floor. He tore off clothing and dragged her to a bedroom, saying he wanted to have sex.
The victim told the police that he “looked like the devil” during the attack.
Liddell fled when the woman’s neighbours, who were alerted by her screams, ran downstairs to find her lying naked, bruised, battered and with two broken teeth.
Liddell, of Springkerse Road, Stirling, had denied the offence but was convicted by a jury.
Lord Uist told him that he had been convicted of an appalling attack on an elderly and infirm woman in her own home.
The court heard he had been out drinking but became upset when a colleague he was infatuated with went off with one of his friends.
He then trawled the streets in Dunblane before entering the home of his victim in the middle of the night. The pensioner had left her door unlocked for her son to arrive in the morning for breakfast.
Liddell was said to have had few friends and described himself as an idiot and naive. He told his trial that he wanted to rescue somebody because he dreamed of being a hero.
Defence counsel Jamie Gilchrist QC said Liddell did not expect “anything other than a custodial sentence” for the dreadful offence.
But he asked the judge to bear in mind he was dealing with a young man “who has clearly had to struggle with some pretty significant difficulties in his background”.
He argued that it was unfair to conclude that there was “some propensity to target vulnerable people” on the part of Liddell.