Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 11:54 UK

Ex-instructor jailed over abuse

Colin MacDonald [Pic: Ciaran Donnelly]
Macdonald was found guilty of 10 charges of abusing children

A former outdoor activities instructor convicted of sexually abusing children at youth camps has been jailed for 12 years at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Colin Macdonald, 61, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, was found guilty in August of 10 charges of abusing children from the deaf community.

The offences took place in the Highlands and Islands and Glasgow between 1973 and 1981.

Some of Macdonald's victims cheered as his sentence was read out.

Several of them, who waived their right to anonymity, welcomed the sentence.

George Drinnan, 45, from London, said through a sign language interpreter: "I am very, very happy. He deserved it. I hope he dies in prison."

James Colhoun, 48, from Glasgow, said: "I expected seven or eight years - to hear 12 years was fantastic. We have suffered and we are still suffering. It will be in our minds forever."

You sexually abused and assaulted vulnerable deaf children who were entrusted to your care while on expeditions in isolated places far from their homes
Lord Malcolm

Joseph McIntyre, 46, from Balloch, in West Dunbartonshire, said: "I feel really good, ecstatic. I hope he goes to Hell."

During the trial, the jury heard how Macdonald was a trusted instructor whose skills in mountaineering and outdoor activities placed him in demand at youth camps.

But he carried out attacks on boys in his care at various locations including Glasgow, Glendoll, Sutherland, Mallaig, Glencoe, Aviemore and the isles of Rum and Harris.

His youngest victim was just 10 and the oldest 15.

Macdonald, who is originally from Glasgow, was finally caught after two of his victims exchanged text messages decades later and went to the police.

He later admitted the abuse while being questioned by Northern Constabulary at Wakefield where he fled after the allegations emerged.

'Vulnerable children'

Sentencing Macdonald, the judge, Lord Malcolm, said his crimes were "premeditated".

"You sexually abused and assaulted vulnerable deaf children who were entrusted to your care while on expeditions in isolated places far from their homes," he said.

"Over several years you took advantage of their vulnerability and your power as their leader all for your own gratification. You had no regard to the damage being done to them.

"All of this was a planned, premeditated breach of the trust placed in you.

"It must have taken great courage for them to come forward and explain what you did."

Lord Malcolm told Macdonald, who is also deaf, through a sign language interpreter in court: "It is clear from reports you have refused to accept full responsibility for your disgraceful assaults upon them and even tried to blame some of your victims for your current position.

"There is no doubt in my mind that given the nature and gravity of your offences and the breach of trust towards vulnerable young people in your care I must take a very serious view of this matter."

He also placed Macdonald on the sex offenders register and said he would refer him to Scottish ministers as a person unsuitable to work with children.

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