Mar 23 2012 by Gregor White, Stirling Observer Friday
A SURVIVOR of the Dunblane tragedy has received a life sentence for a violent sex attack on a grandmother in her own home.
Judge Lord Uist told Ryan Liddell, now 21, that his actions had ruined the life of his 76 year old victim, who has been unable to live on her own since he sneaked into her home and subjected her to the assault in July 2010.
At the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday he ordered Liddell to serve at least six years before being eligible for parole - and warned him that he would only be released when he no longer posed a threat to the public.
His name was also added to the sex offenders register and even after possible release he will remain under supervision for the rest of his life.
Sentencing followed a day of evidence from a consultant forensic psychiatrist.
On Tuesday Dr Rajan Dargee, an expert on sex offenders, told the court that the Dunblane tragedy in March 1996 had played no part in shaping Liddell’s personality.
The court had already heard from defence QC Jamie Gilchrist that Liddell would not try to use the tragedy as an excuse for what he did.
Liddell had apparently been showing behavioural problems before starting primary school and had been expelled from nursery after complaints by parents of other children.
He was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADHD) and appeared “reckless” and “aloof”.
Dr Dargee said that Liddell was not a psychopath but was suffering from a number of difficult personality traits.
Liddell was found guilty after a jury trial last year of assault with intent to rape, and at this week’s sentencing Lord Uist recalled the details of his attack.
The court heard that the former short order cook was an awkward loner who was shy among girls of his own age and prone to heavy drinking and wandering at night.
Living in Springkerse House, Stirling at the time of the offence, the trial heard how his victim had left her door unlocked so that her son could come in for breakfast in the morning, but that Liddell had taken advantage of this to sneak in and attack her after drinking vodka and beer with other youths in woods near Dunblane High School.
Lord Uist said Liddell had pretended to be the woman’s carer before pushing her to the floor and kicking her.
He then lifted her up, clamped a hand over her mouth, told her he wanted sex and stripped off her clothes.
His victim suffered an eye injury, bruises and a serious fracture of her shoulder and the judge said: “She has been mentally affected by the ordeal to which you subjected her.
“She has been in hospital or a nursing home since the attack and is no longer able to live independently.
“In effect you ruined the rest of her life by what you did to her.”
Liddell had always insisted his victim’s injuries were accidental and that there had been no sexual motive behind the attack, but the judge told him the jury had rejected his story - and his denial showed a lack of remorse for his actions.
The court also heard of a previous incident where Liddell had broken into the house of an elderly man and climbed into his bed, though on that occasion he had simply gone to sleep.
The judge said: “It is shocking that a young man such as you could have committed such a terrible crime on a vulnerable and elderly lady by subjecting her to such violence in her own home in the middle of the night.”