|Sex abuse: Former police officer guilty of child abuse.© STV|
Iain Reid targeted children as young as three while living in a police house in Buckhaven, Fife, and later in Leven, where he bought his own home.
One of his victims, whom he abused over a period of five years, and who had to report her torment three times before he was prosecuted, was singled out for praise by the trial sheriff for exposing the "chronic and persistent sexual predator".
Falkirk Sheriff Court heard that Reid, now a grandfather aged 66, "engineered" opportunities to be alone with the children, enticing them into his house with sweets, a chance to pat his dog, or in the case of one young girl, offers of lettuce for her rabbit.
What a treat it must be to be thought of as a fine, upstanding policeman by your grandchildren, only to be outed as a sexual predator and pervert. He has cast a dark shadow over his entire family that may last for generations. What a legacy! How sad and pathetic.
One young victim was sometimes made to do handstands by Reid, who then touched her inappropriately while she was upside down.
The abuse continued until she was in Primary 7 in 1997 and told her best friend. Together they went to see the school nurse.
Police and social work were called in, but Reid was not prosecuted at the time, because there were no other witnesses.
She said she reported the childhood abuse again when she was 20 and about to leave home, because she thought it was "unfinished business", but again no action was taken because of lack of corroboration.
In about 2009, she heard of another girl who said Reid had abused her, and went to police again in 2014.
Reid, who was a police officer for 21 years and a soldier for 12 years before that, committed the offences over a 17-year period between 1980 and 1997.
Further allegations that Reid abused a fourth girl in 1999, sexually assaulted a young mother in 1982, and abused a child in her early teens in the mid-1980s were found not proven.
Deferring sentence for until October 27 for reports and remanding Reid in custody, Sheriff Craig Caldwell told the accused he faced a substantial prison sentence. He was also placed on the sex offenders' register.
The sheriff said: "You have been found guilty of extremely serious charges, involving the persistent sexual abuse of very young children.
"It is clear that you are chronic and persistent sexual predator who abused his position as a police officer, although I recognise these offences were not committed actually on duty.
"It is all the more reprehensible that instead of accepting your responsibility for your conduct, you required these victims to re-live the abuse that you perpetrated on them (by pleading not-guilty and forcing the trial).
"It is fortunate that these three have displayed commendable fortitude - in particular the person who was subjected to the longest period of abuse - in bringing this matter before the court and exposing you as the evil and base individual that you are."