Seaman faces lengthy sentence for attack on girl (14)

A 25-YEAR-old merchant seaman is facing a lengthy prison sentence after being found guilty of raping a Levenmouth schoolgirl.

Andrew Marshall attacked the 14-year-old in a Methil street, dragged her into a nearby nursery and raped her.

He had denied raping the girl a complete stranger at Woodlands Nursery on December 30 last year.

However, a jury found him guilty by a majority verdict at the High Court in Dunfermline on Friday.

Lord Hardie told Marshall: "Because this was an attack on a young girl in the street, I have to consider if you are a risk to the public and merit an extended sentence in order to protect the public.

"But, before this can be done, Parliament requires me to obtain a risk assessment."

He remanded Marshall formerly of Den Walk, in Methil, but who was said in court to be living with his stepfather in Kent in custody until an appearance at the High Court in Edinburgh on January 3.

Because she was afraid of facing her alleged attacker in court, the girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was allowed to give her evidence behind screens.

She told how she was on her way to see a cousin when she was grabbed from behind in Methilhaven Road, Methil.

"I had no warning," she told the court. "He had his hands over my eyes and mouth. He pushed me into a nearby nursery and told me not to shout or scream.

"I told him I was only 14 and I was crying and terrified, but he said nothing. I never got the chance to look into his face."

During the attack, the girl, now aged 15, suffered a burst lip, scratches to her head and some bruising.

She refused to be examined by the police doctor, because he was a man, and was later seen by a female doctor at Edinburgh's Sick Kids Hospital.

Marshall had returned to sea while police asked for all young men in the Methil area to take a DNA test.

On his return, some three weeks later, he went to the police himself and told them the girl had consented to have sex with him and he was unaware she was 14 until she told him.

Lord Hardie was told Marshall had previous convictions for minor thefts by housebreaking, but none for sex offences.

After the verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Ian Hutton, central divisional crime manager, praised the level of public co-operation in the DNA testing, in which nearly 300 people came forward to give samples.

"This, once again, shows the value in advances made in forensic science and DNA testing," he said.

"In cases such as this, it's the co-operation of the public, in so much as every person who provides a sample takes us one step closer to identifying the person responsible.

"We thank the public in Methil for their assistance in this case."