Concerns are being expressed in two Moray communities on learning that a convicted sex offender recently spared a jail term is now living in their midst.
Lorry driver Stephen Whitecross, 44, was found guilty at Inverness Sheriff Court earlier this month on several charges, three of which were sex offences against teenagers. All were committed while he lived in Inverness, but he has since moved to Lossiemouth.
The offences involved assaults on victims aged between 13 and 16. The court had learned that in April 2008 he supplied the 13-year-old with alcohol in two Inverness pubs before behaving in a lewd and indecent way towards her in a flat in the city.
A second offence related to June 2012 when he plied two 16-year-olds with cannabis and alcohol before sexually assaulting one of them, and on another occasion he plied a 15 and 16 year old with cannabis and alcohol before indecently assaulting one.
On February 3, Whitecross was sentenced to three years’ probation and 300 hours community service.
However, residents around a popular children’s play area in Lossiemouth are expressing concerns on learning the background of their new neighbour – with hundreds more having signed a petition demanding that the Langstane Housing Association take action against his visits to homes they operate in Buckie.
A resident at the Marina Quay flats in Lossiemouth, who did not wish to be identified, said: “Several of my neighbours are concerned – I have a teenage daughter who uses the play area alongside our home so it is obviously a matter of some concern that this man is living in our midst.”
Meanwhile an online petition lodged by Bethany Parkes-Moore in Buckie has already attracted 221 signatures calling on the Langstane Housing Association to “Help stop a convicted paedophile entering our estate when he does not live here”.
When sentencing Whitecross Sheriff Margaret Neilson said that a probationary sentence would ensure he was placed under extended supervision and would better serve the public interest.