Ex-serviceman sexually assaulted two sisters within minutes

Aaron Hickman molested a 16-year-old girl and then tried to rape her younger sister at a house in Fife.

High Court: Aaron Hickman has been jailed. SNS
High Court: Aaron Hickman has been jailed.

A former serviceman carried out sex attacks on two sisters within minutes of each other.

Aaron Hickman, 24, molested a 16-year-old girl and then tried to rape her younger sister at a house in Fife.

Hickman, of Kirkcaldy, Fife, pleaded with his victims not to tell anyone and claimed it would be their fault if he went to prison.

Jailing him for three years and nine months at the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lord Uist said: “These were opportunistic crimes. What possessed you to act in such a manner I do not know. Each victim must have been terrified by the sudden attack upon her.”

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Hickman earlier admitted sexually assaulting the older girl and attempting to rape the younger victim on July 7 last year. He was placed on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.

The court earlier heard that the girls were at the house when Hickman arrived. 

He tried to kiss the older girl and pushed her onto a bed.

Advocate depute Jane Farquharson QC said she managed to push her attacker away and went to a bathroom and locked the door, feeling scared.

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Hickman went into a bedroom where the younger girl was and kissed her.

The court heard that she tried to push him away but he would not stop.

Miss Farquharson said: “The complainer wanted to shout for someone but was too scared.”

The older girl saw him leaving the room where her sister had been and went in and found her looking scared.

The prosecutor said: “She burst out crying and told her that the accused had tried to have sex with her.”

The sisters sat with their backs to the door to prevent Hickman coming back into the room.

Miss Farquharson said: “The accused was pleading with them not to tell anyone as he would lose his job. He said it will be their fault if he went to jail.” 

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Hickman continued to contact them via Snapchat and repeatedly apologised to them.

The prosecutor said: “He said that he had not been able to control himself, that it had happened so fast and that he had not been thinking.”

The victims later revealed what had happened and police were contacted. Hickman was arrested two days after the attacks at the RAF base at Lossiemouth in Morayshire.

Defence counsel Michael Anderson said: “He has lost his job with the RAF as a consequence of what he did.”

He told the court: “He apologised almost immediately and is still sorry.”

Mr Anderson said that Hickman, who was on bail, was assaulted earlier this month following the commission of the offence.


Hero paddle boarder rescues child blown out to sea

Coastguard said the individual's 'quick actions' prevented a 'tragic ending' in North Ayrshire.

Rescue: Coastguard were called to the scene shortly after 4.30pm on Thursday.

A paddle boarder rescued a child blown out to sea on an inflatable pool toy in North Ayrshire.

Ardrossan Coastguard said the person’s “quick actions” saved the young girl from a “tragic ending”.

Emergency services were called shortly after 4.30pm on Thursday.

The boarder had managed to recover the young girl, but could not return to shore because of wind.

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The lifeboat swiftly retrieved the pair, before making its way to Ardrossan Harbour. Both were checked over by paramedics but no further medical attention was needed.

A short time later, three kayakers were blown off shore north of Ardrossan Harbour. Coastguard and the lifeboat navigated challenging conditions to help them return to land.

None of the individuals required treatment and their kayaks were recovered.

An Ardrossan Coastguard statement said: “Yesterday also highlights once again the dangers of using inflatables at the coast especially in offshore wind conditions.

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“Inflatable toys are designed for the swimming pool – not the sea.

“We would also advise people to avoid setting to sea for any sort of surface water sport including paddle boarding or kayaking when there is an offshore wind.

“You can very quickly drift or be blown a significant distance from shore without realising and ultimately may require to be rescued.”


Scots race home after overnight changes to quarantine list

Prices skyrocket as thousands of tourists try to find a way back to Scotland.

Quarantine: Travellers returning from Frances, the Netherlands and Malta face a 14-day quarantine from Saturday.

Scots face a race against time to return home from France, the Netherlands and Malta after the countries were added to the quarantine list.

Travellers returning from the destinations, who arrive in the United Kingdom after 4am on Saturday, will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

A speedy return comes at a cost – British tourists in France are being charged hundreds of pounds to return home before quarantine restrictions are imposed.

Air fares are more than six times higher than normal for flights from Paris to London on Friday, with the cheapest British Airways tickets being sold for £452. The lowest priced Eurostar tickets available on Friday morning are £210.

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Travellers willing to pay these inflated fares could still miss out due to many services already being fully booked. An estimated 160,000 holidaymakers are expected to try to return to the UK from France on Friday.

The decision by the Scottish Government, also made by the UK Government and devolved administrations in Northern Ireland and Wales, aims to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus by those travelling.

The public health measures now also apply to those arriving from Aruba, Turks and Caicos, and Monaco.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “We have always been clear we are closely monitoring the situation in all countries and that we may need to take action to remove a country from the list of places exempt from quarantine requirements should the virus show a resurgence.

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“These are not decisions which we take lightly but on the basis of the evidence it is important that we take action to suppress transmission of the virus and protect public health.”

Failure to comply with requirement to quarantine can result in a fine of £480.

Department for Transport officials said data from France shows that over the past week there has been a 66% increase in newly reported Covid-19 cases and a 52% increase in the weekly incidence rate per 100,000 population, indicating a sharp rise in infections.

The latest 14-day cumulative figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show 32.1 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in France, compared with 18.5 in the UK.

The move will come as a bitter blow to the hard-pressed French tourism industry which relies heavily on visitors from the UK.

France’s secretary of state for European affairs said the UK decision would lead to “reciprocal measures” across the Channel.

The decision to add the Netherlands was made after a 52% increase in newly reported cases between August 7 and 13 after a consistent series of rises in previous weeks.

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Over the past week, there has been a 273% increase in newly reported cases in Turks and Caicos, a 1106% increase in Aruba and a 105% rise in Malta.


Camper clampdown: Call for ‘dirty tourism’ prosecutions

Community leaders hit out at lack of action to tackle wild campers leaving litter and setting fires.

Wild camping has become a common sight during the post-lockdown tourism surge.

Community leaders in the Highlands are calling for prosecutions to clamp down on “dirty tourism” at beauty spots.

In the village of Durness, the number of wild campers has regularly outstripped the local population.

Fires, litter and bad parking have also been causing problems in the area.

Fines of £200 can be imposed, but STV News has learned none has been dished out during a post-lockdown tourism surge.

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Tackling the problems of littering and dumping of general and human waste is primarily the responsibility of local authorities.

However, police and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency have also been part of a co-ordinated effort to deal with well-documented recent problems affecting countless communities across Scotland.

A spokeswoman for Highland Council said: “No tourist-related fixed penalty notices (FPNs) have been issued during lockdown by (our) environmental health service.”

She added that its officers were investigating claims of camper van illegally disposing of chemical waste and a wild camper leaving litter behind.

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“If sufficient evidence is established, then a FPN will be issued in both cases,” she said.

Community council leaders said they wanted to see tougher enforcement action.

Kinlochbervie Community Council secretary Margaret Meek said: “I’m shocked that Highland Council have issued no fixed penalty notices and are only pursuing two cases.

“Although I’d imagine gathering sufficient evidence to pursue an individual case would be difficult, it seems clear the current measures to address the ‘dirty tourist’ problem are inadequate.”

Durness Community Council chairman Donald Campbell said: “I’m not surprised by Highland Council’s response.

“They haven’t put any staff in place to cover this area in order to enforce any litter or pollution infringements by tourists. If the same happened in Inverness it would be dealt with.

“If we, as locals, break the same law they seem to have the resources to deal with it. We can’t ask people to put themselves in danger by asking people to obey the law.”

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Highland Council is keen to promote the fact that it welcomes lifeline tourism as “a crucial component of our local economy”.

It pointed out that there is no statutory requirement for it to provide public toilets, but that it supports communities taking responsibility for them through asset transfers or with bids to develop new facilities.

In an effort to prevent littering, council officials said there were bigger bins and more collections in key sites including Sutherland.

The council, together with the Highlands and Islands Local Resilience Partnership, has established a working group to tackle so-called “wild camping” issues.

The organisations are developing a leaflet for local communities to use to promote “responsible tourist/camping behaviour”.

Highland has applied for a £358,000 Scottish Government grant for infrastructure to provide enhanced waste services.

The council is also planning to develop a “visitor management plan” with the aim of addressing key tourism related concerns.

Police Scotland said local officers carry out regular patrols in the north-west Highlands to respond to concerns raised about irresponsible camping and parking.

Inspector James Rice said: “We’ll continue to work with our partners to address any antisocial or illegal behaviour and take the appropriate action.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “We’re aware of incidents of littering, antisocial behaviour and damage to our natural environment since lockdown restrictions began to ease, and are clear that this behaviour is completely unacceptable and disrespectful to local communities.

“We’ve taken exceptional measures in every area of government as we deal with the challenges of Covid-19 and that’s particularly clear in our support for local services.”

She said the Scottish Government had committed almost £330m of extra funding to local government, of which Highland Council would receive “a fair share”.


No contact info, no beer: Pubs clamp down on details

Further rules introduced to combat spread of virus in sector, meaning tables should be pre-booked and queuing avoided.

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New rules: Scottish Government tightens guidance for pubs and restaurants.

Pubs and restaurants are now required by law to collect customers’ contact details as new rules come into force.

The requirement is to help Test and Protect teams as the Scottish Government looks to contain coronavirus.

Further rules have been introduced to combat the spread of the virus in the hospitality sector, meaning tables should be pre-booked and customer queuing should be avoided.

There should be no background music and TVs should be muted to reduce the need for people to shout or lean in close to one another.

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No more than three households at a time should meet in a group.

Additionally, staff have been told face shields may be used but only if they are worn in addition to a mask.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously said a common factor in the rise in new coronavirus outbreaks across the world – including the Aberdeen cluster – is the hospitality sector.

Settings such as pubs and restaurants are particularly susceptible to the virus.

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She last week: “I now intend to make it mandatory for a range of settings, including hospitality businesses, to collect customer details.”

Placing compliance on a “statutory footing”, Sturgeon added, will ensure Test and Protect can function as effectively as possible.

She said Police Scotland will enforce the measures, which are in effect from Friday, if necessary.


Three victims of train derailment named by police

Christopher Stuchbury died alongside train driver Brett McCullough and conductor Donald Dinnie during the crash.

Deaths: Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Christopher Stuchbury.

Tributes have been paid to the three men who were killed in the train derailment in Aberdeenshire.

Train driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury all died in the crash on Wednesday.

They were all aboard a train that came off the rails near Stonehaven amid heavy rain and flooding.

Six others were also injured on board the 6.38am Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street service.

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The family of Mr Stuchbury, 62, from Aberdeen, described him as “much adored” and said he was “loved by many”.

Three men were killed during the crash in Aberdeenshire.

A statement read: “Chris was a much adored husband, son, dad, stepdad, grandad, brother and uncle and was a treasured and loved friend to many, including the Targe Towing Team where he was an integral and valued member of staff.

“He also volunteered at Roxburghe House in Aberdeen during his spare time which he thoroughly enjoyed doing.

“We are devastated by his death and we request privacy at this difficult time as we come to terms with our loss.”

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Mr McCullough, 45, who was a former gas engineer before deciding to switch careers after servicing the boiler of a railway worker, leaves behind wife Stephanie and three children, two girls and a boy.

Emergency crews at the scene following the derailment.

His family said: “Words cannot describe the utterly devastating effect of Brett’s death on his family and friends. 

“We have lost a wonderful husband, father, and son in the most awful of circumstances. 

“Brett was the most decent and loving human being we have ever known and his passing leaves a huge void in all our lives.”

Stonehaven train derailed.
Emergency response at the scene near Stonehaven.

Relatives of 58-year-old train conductor Donald Dinnie also paid tribute following their loss.

They said: “As a family we are devastated by the sudden and tragic loss of Donald, a loving and proud dad, son, partner, brother, uncle and friend.

“No words could ever describe how much he will be missed by us all and there will always be a missing piece in our hearts.

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“It is so heart warming to see how many people have fond memories of Donald and I am sure they have plenty of happy and funny stories to tell. He was a kind, caring and genuine person who was never found without a smile on his face. We know he will be deeply missed by all.

“Together we thank each and everyone of you for your kind words and condolences but we kindly ask at this time that we have the chance to grieve privately as a family.”


Barn owl trapped in thick mud saved from ‘sticky end’

Lauren Moir was enjoying a stroll in the Angus Glens with her daughter and partner when she came across the distressed bird.

Rescue: The rare barn owl was saved after getting stuck in sticky mud. Picture by Angus Glens Moorland Group.

A rare barn owl was saved from an untimely ‘sticky end’ after getting stuck in thick mud.

Lauren Moir, daughter Layla and partner Dale Dunbar were enjoying a stroll in the Angus Glens when they came across the distressed bird.

Due to the hot weather, the water course had dried up but left a circle of deep mud that entrapped the owl as it hunted for prey.

Ms Moir launched a rescue mission by piling up stones in the mud to get closer to the animal. Mr Dunbar was then able to free it by using a tree branch.

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Ms Moir said: “When we first spied the owl, we knew we had to get it out. I started to pile stones to get closer but the mud was quite deep. 

“I piled about four or five stones on top of each other so we could get as close to the bird as possible. 

“Dale managed to hook the owl out of the mud with a stick from the woods. The whole thing took about 45 minutes.”

Clean-up: Rowan was given a gentle wash in a kitchen sink.

With its feathers caked and matted, Ms Moir wrapped newly-named ‘Rowan’ safely in her hoodie before seeking the advice from a falconer and local gamekeeper Garry MacLennan.

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Mr MacLennan collected Rowan and took it home for a clean-up in his kitchen sink.

The owl was then kept warm overnight in a box, fed with a rabbit leg, and released the following day after regaining its full strength.

The rescuers were there for the grand release, along with Layla’s friend Pyper and Mr MacLennan’s son Mason.

Once free, Rowan flew towards trees at a field edge.

Ms Moir said: “It was great to see Rowan get released and we are happy to know we probably saved its life. 

“It was a really positive experience for my daughter Layla and her friend Pyper to see it flying away again.”

Release: Rowan was back to full strength by the morning.

Barn owls are Schedule 1 birds and are fully protected all year round. There are only around 4000 pairs in the UK. 

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Without timely assistance, it is likely Rowan would have starved to death.

Mr MacLennan said: “We have four breeding pairs of barn owls on the estate. 

“They are majestic birds and I love to watch them hunting at night. 

“I was happy to help Rowan recover from otherwise a horrible death.”


Courtroom drama coming to cinemas as juries watch

The move follows the success of the 'remote jury' model used by the High Court in Edinburgh.

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Juries to hear trials remotely from cinemas to tackle backlog of cases.

Juries will hear trials remotely from cinemas as part of plans to tackle a growing backlog of cases.

The move follows the success of the “remote jury” model used by the High Court in Edinburgh, where juries have observed trials by video link from another courtroom to allow for physical distancing.

High Court trials restarted last month in Edinburgh and Glasgow, having been paused during the pandemic.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) said tests have been run from a jury centre based in a cinema complex, during one of which a mock trial was conducted with a full jury of 15 people watching the proceedings.

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It is now seeking to establish remote jury centres based in cinemas in the east and west of Scotland for at least 16 juries, with £5.5m in financial support from Scottish Government.

Lady Dorrian, chairwoman of the restarting solemn trials working group, said: “The beauty of this solution is that it preserves the 15-person jury trial and will allow us, in time, to raise business in the High Court to a level that will start to address the growing backlog of cases.

“The working group took a long, hard look at the lessons learned from the two-court and three-court model currently in use to run a small number of trials.

“It was clear that the remote jury model does work and, if suitable external venues could be identified, it would be possible to run a much higher number of trials, making full use of the courtrooms we have available for the trials.”

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The target is to open the jury centres, which will be managed and staffed by SCTS, in the autumn.

Eric McQueen, chief executive of the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, said: “The great advantage of these remote jury centres is that they provide, in a single building, a number of spacious and soundproofed auditoria that can comfortably accommodate 15 physically-distanced jurors, combined with state-of-the-art secure technology.

“It also means we have a model that can be replicated at various sites around the country.”

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said work is ongoing to consider what further actions may be needed to address the backlog of cases and for remote jury centres to be further rolled out for sheriff and jury cases.

He said: “As we continue to move out of lockdown we need new thinking and collaboration to deliver jury trials in line with public health requirements.

“Lord Justice Clerk Lady Dorrian’s working group and the courts service should be commended for finding and delivering a ground-breaking solution that significantly increases High Court capacity to make up to 16 jury-rooms available while importantly adhering to physical distancing rules.”

Man charged after woman pushed to ground and robbed

A woman had her mobile phone stolen in Glasgow on Monday afternoon.

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Glasgow: A man has been charged in connection with an assault and robbery.

Police have charged a man after a woman was “violently” pushed to the ground and robbed in Glasgow.

A 47-year-old woman had her mobile phone snatched from her hand during an attack in Anniesland Road, Knightswood, around 4.15pm on Monday.

She was walking near Farmfoods when police say a man pushed her from behind and made off with her phone.

On Friday, the force said a 38-year-old had been charged in connection with the incident.

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A spokesperson said: “Police Scotland can confirm that a man has been arrested and charged in connection with an assault and robbery in Glasgow.

“The incident happened on Anniesland Road in the city around 4.15pm on Monday, August 10.

“A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal and the 38-year-old man is expected to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court at a later date.”


Golden eagle successfully bred at Highlands estate

Chick born at Dundreggan rewilding estate in Glenmoriston five years after artificial nest set up.

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Eagle: Nest was set up five years ago to entice birds back.

Golden eagles have reared a chick in an artificial nest at a Highlands estate for the first time in 40 years.

The chick was born at Dundreggan rewilding estate in Glenmoriston, five years after the nest was set up.

There was no certainty the project would work, as golden eagles build their own nests in remote and inaccessible places, and are highly sensitive to disturbance.

But conservationists at the Trees for Life charity are celebrating after the chick flew the nest for the first time.

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Doug Gilbert, the charity’s Dundreggan manager, said: “This is a rewilding success story beyond our wildest dreams.

“I’ve been checking the eyrie regularly since we built it in 2015, hoping to see evidence that the eagles had returned – and now they have.

“As golden eagles may use their nesting sites for generations, we’re hoping they are back for the long-term.

“Four decades without golden eagles breeding or establishing themselves in this part of our wild and beautiful Highland glen have been four decades too long.

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“When we built the artificial nest, we knew it was in a good location for eagles because we found the remains of an old nest at the site.

“We’ve been keeping our fingers crossed for the past five years, and it’s wonderful that our efforts have paid off like this.”

Golden eagles are regularly seen over Dundreggan, but until now there has been no sign of them nesting or setting up a territory.

The golden eagle is the United Kingdom’s second-largest bird of prey, after the white-tailed eagle.

It is native to Britain, but centuries of persecution saw it driven into extinction in England and Wales by the mid-1800s.

The bird has been making a slow recovery in Scotland but continues to be threatened by illegal persecution, with reports of golden eagles being shot or poisoned.


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