AN ASSISTANT store manager is facing a possible prison sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting five female colleagues whilst working at well known high street shopping chains.
Andrew Docherty (28) targeted the females, who cannot be named for legal reasons, whilst working at various branches of Home Bargains in Fife.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Docherty also placed another two women in a state of fear and alarm during a course of criminal conduct which took place between 2007 and 2015.
The court heard that whilst working for the Morrisons supermarket chain in Fife, Docherty followed one 26-year-old female worker around a store. He then prevented her from leaving the shop.
On another occasion whilst working at Home Bargains, he uttered derogatory remarks towards a woman who was left alarmed by what she had heard.
On Thursday, a jury returned from two days of deliberation and returned guilty verdicts to five charges of sexual assault and guilty to two charges of breach of the peace.
Docherty, of Hay Fleming Avenue, St Andrews, originally faced a total of 18 charges which included allegations of rape, assault with intent to rape, sexual assault and breach of the peace.
However, prosecutors dropped a number of charges during proceedings and the jury returned verdicts of not proven and not guilty to six charges.
Judge Lord Malcolm deferred sentence on the first offender for the court to obtain reports about his character.
He said: “You have been convicted of a number of serious offences. But before I move to sentencing I am going to seek a criminal justice social work report.”
During proceedings, Docherty denied any wrong doing. He lodges special defences which stated that any sexual activity was consensual.
However, one of his victims told the court that she met Docherty when she was working part time in Morrisons in St Andrews as a schoolgirl.
She told advocate depute Jo MacDonald that at first she got on well with Docherty but his attitude towards her changed.
She said: “I went for my break and he went at the same time as me.
“He put his phone down and told me to put my number in it.”
She said that she did not do that and felt uncomfortable. A few months later they were in a fridge unit in the warehouse when Docherty placed her in a state of fear and alarm.
She said: “He kind of cornered me into the back of the fridge. He was saying that I had to build up my strength. I was too weak for carrying things. He wouldn’t let me past.
“Everytime I tried to move he would move in front of me. I didn’t know when I was going to get out. It was freezing. I said ‘let me out’ and things like that. He just ignored me.”
Ms McDonald suggested that the incident could be characterised as teasing and a bit of fun.
But the woman replied it was “basically too far” to make someone crawl to escape.
She said her mum found her crying a few days later and took her into work. Management was informed and Docherty was moved to another department.
A 54-year-old mum of three told the court of how she worked at a Home Bargains sales assistant at a branch in Fife.
She said that prior to Docherty’s arrival at the store where she worked she enjoyed her job. However, she came to dislike her job after Docherty’s arrival.
The woman said that Docherty started complaining about her work and said she was stupid.
She added: “Then he started even saying I was a lesbian because I wore my hair short.”
She said that she handed in her resignation. She added: “I just felt I couldn’t work in the place anymore. I felt I was getting bullied.”
A woman who was sexually assaulted by Docherty at the same branch of Home Bargains told the court about how she was pregnant at the time she was abused.
The 26-year-old female added: “I went to the stock room through the back in Home Bargains and he had grabbed me by the chest and twisted my nipple.
“I told him it wasn’t funny because he laughed. He laughed at me.
“I just remember him grabbing me by the chest. He was at the back of me. I was going out. It was near the front of my breast. He twisted my nipple.”
The woman told the court that it was “agony”. She said her breasts were getting sore because of her pregnancy.
She said: “I was shocked and embarrassed at what he did.”
She said that on another occasion she had finished a shift and was down on her knees to pick up her belongings.
The court heard that Docherty approached her and pulled her head towards his crotch.
She said: “That made me feel really, really disgusted.”
The woman later told him in a social media message that he was a “sick, disgusting creature.”
Docherty then went to work at a branch of Farmfoods in Fife. He targeted a 22-year-old woman who worked alongside him between March 1, 2014 and October 2, 2014.
She said: “He put his hand up my work shirt, like to the back of my bra. I think he thought it was a joke. There were a couple of occasions he dragged me around the shop by my bra. I think he thought it was a joke. There was one occasion where he put his hand up the back of my work shirt. My bra became unclipped.”
Docherty will be sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh on October 5, 2017.