A WEE COUNTY sex offender who abused three young girls has failed in a bid to challenge his conviction in the Criminal Appeal Court.

Alloa's James Adam was found guilty of seven charges last year, including indecency, indecent assault and rape, perpetrated over a period of around 25 years.

He abused two of the girls on various occasions between 1975-1981, then went on to abuse the third between 1988-1996 – and then again in 2001.

The 81-year-old was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for his crimes last April.

But he contested his convictions in relation to three of the charges, which involved the third complainer.

The prosecution relied on the principle of "mutual corroboration" to prove her allegations.

That principle holds that the evidence of two or more witnesses, testifying to separate offences, can corroborate one another if they demonstrate a course of criminal conduct being pursued by an accused person.

The principle is essential in Scots Law, which requires that individuals cannot be found guilty of an offence on the word of one person alone.

Adam's challenge centred on previous case law which held that, where there is a substantial time gap between alleged offences, there must be "compelling similarities" between them before mutual corroboration could apply.

He maintained the six-year period (1996-2001) between the offences committed against the third complainer was substantial.

And because of that, he also he maintained the trial judge should have addressed the jury on the need to find "compelling similarities" between the offences before rendering a verdict.

However, delivering the opinion of the court, Lord Carloway outlined that sexual offences committed against children by adults normally involve repeated instances of the adult getting themselves into privacy with the child.

And he cited a previous case, where the judge said: "The peculiar and perverted character of the accused's conduct is an important element in this class of case."

In his judgement, Lord Carloway then said: "In cases involving the peculiar crime of the sexual abuse of children by adults, there already exists a special, compelling or extraordinary circumstance which will be sufficient for the jury to find the necessary course of conduct established."

On that basis, he refused Adam's appeal.

Adam had denied a catalogue of offences committed against three girls over 26 years but was found guilty of five offences of indecency, a rape and an indecent assault.

He took two girls to watch sex workers plying their trade before subjecting one to a rape ordeal at a house in Alloa, in Clackmannanshire, when she was aged 15.

Adam exposed himself to the second 12-year-old girl.

He targeted another victim from the age of four and repeatedly assaulted her at addresses in Alloa and Sauchie, and at Holytown, in Lanarkshire, before carrying out a sex attack on her when she was a teenager in a car in Sauchie in 2001.

A judge told Adam at the end of his five-day trial: "You stand convicted now by the jury's verdict of deplorable sexual offences committed against young girls."

One of the detectives investigating the case later described Adam as a "sexual deviant" who abused the trust of those he attacked.