Convoy for carers: Lorry drivers show their support for NHS

Twenty different vehicles drove around the town of Laurencekirk, beeping their horns to show their support to key workers.

The owners of a haulage company in Laurencekirk came up with a creative way of supporting the NHS along with all the other essential workers.

As the country gets together to clap for frontline workers every Thursday night, Sarah Slessor and her family – owners of Douglas F Mitchell Ltd – started driving around their town with just two lorries, while beeping their horns and flashing their lights.

Since then, the local community got involved and last night they had approximately 20 different vehicles parading around the streets in a convoy.

Sarah said: “The locals have shown great community spirt and they say it is the highlight of the week.”

Scotland lifts quarantine restrictions on some countries – but not Spain

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reveals details of air bridges as Scottish Government hopes to move into phase three on Thursday.

Those travelling to Scotland from places with a low coronavirus risk will no longer need to self-isolate upon arrival – a move that does not extend to people arriving from Spain.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has approved quarantine-free travel from 39 ‘green’ rated countries, including Germany, Austria, Norway and Malta, from July 10 onwards.

The decision has also been extended to include most of the 20 countries on the ‘amber’ list, where a prevalence of coronavirus is below or not “significantly higher” than Scotland, including France, Greece, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland.

However, she said the Scottish Government “cannot in good conscience” lift restrictions from those arriving from Spain because of the “significantly higher prevalence” of Covid-19 there.

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Despite this, Sturgeon said she hopes to add Spain, as well as Serbia, either in full or in part at the next review point on July 20.

The decision was announced by Sturgeon at the Scottish Government daily press briefing, where she said she also hopes to confirm Scotland can move into phase three of the route map out of lockdown on Thursday.

The details of this move will be made in an update to Scottish Parliament.

The prevalence of the virus in Scotland’s population was described as “low and declining” by the First Minister.

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It is currently estimated that 28 in every 100,000 people in the country have Covid-19 – a prevalence of 0.028%.

She said: “We’re not yet at the stage where we can say we’ve virtually eliminated the virus in the community but that prize is clearly attainable and brings with it the prospect of a brighter future and more sustainable recovery, including in particular the full-time return of education in August.”

Sturgeon confirmed there has been one more coronavirus death reported in Scotland the last 24 hours, as well as seven new cases of the virus.

Corrections

Where can people travel from without needing to quarantine?

From Friday, passengers arriving in Scotland from more than 50 overseas destinations will not need to self-isolate.

Travel: Scottish Government releases details of countries from which passengers can arrive and not need to self-isolate.

The full list of places which people can travel from at the end of the week without needing to quarantine upon their arrival in Scotland has been confirmed.

From Friday, those travelling to the country from more than 50 overseas destinations, with either similar or lower levels of coronavirus infection, will not need to self-isolate.

These include a number of European nations such as Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Malta – but do not extend to Spain or Serbia.

The list of destinations where the self-isolation requirements for those arriving in Scotland will be lifted are;

  • Andorra
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belgium
  • Bonaire
  • Saint Eustatius and Saba
  • Croatia
  • Curaçao
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominica
  • Faroe Islands
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • French Polynesia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Grenada
  • Guadeloupe
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macau
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Monaco
  • The Netherlands
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Réunion
  • San Marino
  • Seychelles
  • St Barthélemy
  • St Kitts & Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Pierre and Miquelon
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Turkey
  • Vatican City State
  • Vietnam
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Travellers from the 14 United Kingdom overseas territories will also be exempt.

Passengers arriving will still be required to complete the online passenger locator form prior to travel and to supply contact details, travel details and the address of the final destination where they will be staying.

Travellers arriving into Scotland via an English port or airport, or direct to the country, will still need to quarantine if they have been in a country which is not on the exemption list.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Having carefully considered the public health impact of proposed exemptions we will lift the quarantine requirements from a limited number of countries where the risk of importing Covid-19 is sufficiently low. These exemptions will take effect on Friday, at the same time as those being introduced for travel into England and Wales.

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“As we have lowered the level of the virus in Scotland, we must manage the risk of more cases coming into the country, particularly from areas where infections are more prevalent than here. That makes decisions about lifting quarantine requirements particularly difficult.

“Anyone travelling should follow public health advice at all times including wearing face coverings, avoiding crowded places, washing hands and surfaces, staying two metres apart and self-isolating if you get symptoms and immediately registering for a test.”

Everyone to be offered 50% discount to eat out in August

Half-price meals will run at participating restaurants from Mondays to Wednesdays next month.

Every person in the UK will be offered a 50% discount for dining out during August to help the hospitality industry bounce back, Rishi Sunak has announced.

Any business will be able to register for the scheme, which will see half-price meals at participating restaurants from Mondays to Wednesdays next month.

They will then be able to claim the money back from the Treasury within five working days, Sunak said,

There will be a maximum discount of £10 per head, including for children, the Chancellor added.

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He set out the “eat out to help out” discount as he gave an economic update statement, branded a “mini-budget”.

Sunak also revealed VAT will be cut for six months from 20% to 5% from next week for firms in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

The move will cut the tax on eat-in and hot takeaway food from restaurants cafes and pubs.

It will also benefit hotels, B&Bs, campsites and caravan sites as well as attractions like cinema, theme parks and zoos.

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It will be reduced from next Wednesday, July 15, until January 12, he told MPs.

The Chancellor added: “This is a £4bn catalyst for the hospitality and tourism sectors, benefiting over 150,000 businesses, and consumers everywhere – all helping to protect 2.4 million jobs.”

In total, he laid out £30bn worth of stimulus measures, bringing total cash for the Scottish Government as a result of Treasury interventions during the pandemic to £4.6bn.

Restaurants, cafes and pubs have been severely affected by the coronavirus lockdown, Sunak said, with many staff – including a large proportion of young people – placed on the government’s furlough scheme.

But in a “creative” bid to encourage customers to return, the Chancellor said: “I can announce today that, for the month of August, we will give everyone in the country an ‘eat out to help out’ discount.

“Meals eaten at any participating business, Monday to Wednesday, will be 50% off, up to a maximum discount of £10 per head for everyone, including children.

“Businesses will need to register, and can do so through a simple website, open next Monday.

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“Each week in August, businesses can then claim the money back, with the funds in their bank account within five working days.”

A Treasury document said the discount can be used “unlimited times”.

It will be valid Monday to Wednesday on any eat-in meal – including on non-alcoholic drinks – at any participating restaurant, cafe, pub or other eligible food service establishment across the UK.

Establishments will then be reimbursed for the 50% discount, the document said.

Man appears in court over rape of 83-year-old woman

Kyle McKenzie, 21, appeared at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Wednesday charged with a serious sexual assault.

Rape charge: Man appears in court over serious sexual assault.

A man has appeared in court charged with raping an 83-year-old woman.

Kyle McKenzie, 21, is accused over an incident at an address in Meldrum Court, Glenrothes, Fife, in the early hours of June 25.

McKenzie, from Glenrothes, appeared at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Wednesday charged with a serious sexual assault and theft by housebreaking.

He submitted no plea and was remanded in custody.


Chancellor haunted by mass unemployment nightmare

Rishi Sunak's new job retention bonus may just move the redundancies cliff edge from October to January.

Unemployment: Rishi Sunak to increase job centre staff.

First, the scary statistics: the depressing compendium of forecasts that risk transporting UK PLC back to the days when mass unemployment led to feverish agitation and occasional civil disorder.

The Chancellor told MPs in his economic update that the economy had contracted by 25% in two months, the same figure as it grew in the previous 18 years.

It is this unpalatable truth that led the OECD to predict the unemployment rate could hit 15% if there is a second spike of Covid-19 and a return to lockdown.

Even without another spike, it is likely in their view to hit 11.7% by the end of the year, the highest level since 1984 when Margaret Thatcher felt the heat of communities in the merciless grip of de-industrialisation.

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It is the prospect of three or even four million unemployed and a disproportionate number of 16-24 year olds on the dole long-term that spurred Rishi Sunak into action.

The question is whether the package of measures – the jobs retention bonus, the kick-start scheme, money for apprenticeships, the green jobs boost etc, will do the trick and reverse what feels inevitable.

It was implicit in what the Chancellor said that he believes he can mitigate but not prevent the full deluge of human misery that mass unemployment brings. The furlough scheme, he said, could not be the subject of endless extensions. It gave false hope since it was essentially a subsidy.

“It is hard to avoid concluding that the jobs retention bonus is a cheaper form of furlough but by another name.”

Bernard Ponsonby

Sunak clearly believes that if the scheme runs indefinitely, the net effect is that the Exchequer will keep people in a false sense of security since employers will eventually address the new economic normal by aligning their wage bill to fresh circumstances.

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That, in all probability, will lead to furloughed workers being made redundant when it is deemed they are no longer needed.

It is hard to avoid concluding that the jobs retention bonus is a cheaper form of furlough but by another name.

Under this new scheme employers can claim £1000 per furloughed worker as long as they are employed to January of next year. It should be remembered that furloughing ends in October. If every employer claims for every furloughed worker then the cost to the Treasury will be £9bn.

Employers are also being incentivised to take on 16-24 year olds with the government paying wages for six months. More money too for businesses that create apprenticeships.

The success of these incentives lies entirely with companies playing ball and levering in more public money to protect some jobs and create others. There are two problems I foresee here with initiatives which are undoubtedly well intentioned.

The first is that employers may lever in more money as a continuation of helping their balance sheets. The cliff edge for redundancies is moved from October to next January. What this new scheme cannot do is to alter the new realities in certain markets which will be the prime factor in reducing headcount.

The second potential problem is that it could lead to some of the new trainees and apprentices equipping themselves with skills only to find that the overarching issue of economic contraction will soon makes then unemployed workers.

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Even the help for the hospitality and tourism sector is short-term. The VAT cut will last for six months when many in the sector believe the downside of lockdown will take much longer than six months to recover from.

The aligning of expenditure in labour intensive sectors that look beyond the short term therefore would appear to represent a better opportunity for revival.

The Chancellor argues his help for the construction sector and the profiling of large infrastructure projects meet that ambition even if opposition MPs believe it is too little and in the case of infrastructure spending the rehashing of previous announcements.

The fact that Rishi Sunak announced a doubling in the number of job centre staff tasked with helping to match the unemployed with jobs tells us that the government is braced for a huge hike in joblessness. The only question is how large the number will be.

The financial numbers attached to every bit of help to date and the cost of today’s announcements are huge. The response until now has cost £160bn, according to the Chancellor.

He told the Commons today that over the “medium term” the public finances must be put on a sustainable footing. That means balancing the books.

How the government balances those books whilst at the same time declaring that austerity is dead leads to an inescapable conclusion. Tax rises and in all probability significant tax rises are on the way. It would require levels of economic growth that are not credible in the medium term to prevent the government from increasing taxes.

But even here there are two problems. Tax too much too early and you depress demand and keep unemployment high. That’s the economic conundrum. The political one is that only last December, the Tories said no tax rises.

Perhaps Mr Sunak could tax humble pie, as in all likelihood, large amounts of it will be eaten in SW1.

Child who died after getting into difficulty in river named

Seven-year-old Freya Skene died in hospital after being pulled from the River Braan with her mother on Monday.

Police Scotland
Death: Freya Skene died after getting into difficulty in river.

A seven-year-old girl who died after getting into difficulty in water at a Perthshire beauty spot has been named. 

Freya Skene and her mother Brooke Reid were rushed to hospital after getting into difficulty in the River Braan near Ossian’s Cave on Monday.

The pair, from Dundee, were both taken to Ninewells Hospital under police escort.

Freya later passed away at hospital and her mother was treated for non-life threatening injuries and later released. 

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Following a post-mortem on Wednesday, Freya’s death has been confirmed as non-suspicious and the police investigation has now concluded, with a report submitted to the Procurator Fiscal. 

Freya’s family have since released a statement through Police Scotland.

‘I was lucky to survive but sadly our poor baby girl passed away.’

Brooke Reid

“We had to say goodbye to our best friend, our life, our world, our everything.

“Freya and I were in a freak accident that had us pulled down multiple waterfalls. 

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“I was lucky to survive but sadly our poor baby girl passed away.

“Freya was a cheeky little devil who we loved so much. She was our little guardian angel. 

“Our family are so grateful for all of the support we have received. However, we now ask that we are given time to grieve for Freya in peace.”

Detective chief inspector Ray Birnie of Dundee CID said: “Our sincere condolences are with Freya’s family, community and all those affected by this absolutely tragic accident.

“I would like to recognise the efforts of the emergency responders who attended the scene and also the medical staff who later battled to save Freya.

“I would also like to thank the witnesses who came forward to us with information.

“We continue to provide support to Freya’s family. I would like to stress that the family have requested that their privacy is respected at this incredibly difficult time.”


Firms to get £1000 for each furloughed employee they keep on

Employers who bring back and retain furloughed staff will be in line for a 'job retention bonus' later this year.

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Furlough: Rishi Sunak says scheme cannot go on indefinitely.

The Chancellor has promised to pay companies £1000 for every employee they furloughed if they bring them back after the scheme wraps up in October.

Rishi Sunak announced the £9bn “job retention bonus” as he insisted the furlough scheme could not go on indefinitely.

The £1000 “bonus” will be paid to firms for each member of staff they keep in work until January provided they pay them at least £520 a month on average.

If all nine million furloughed workers in the UK – including more than 800,000 in Scotland – are taken back by their employer, the scheme will cost the Treasury £9bn, Sunak said.

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Providing an economic update in the House of Commons, the Chancellor said: “Leaving the furlough scheme open forever gives people false hope that it will always be possible to return to the jobs they had before.

“The longer people are on furlough, the more likely it is their skills could fade, and they will find it harder to get new opportunities.

“It is in no one’s long-term interests for the scheme to continue forever, least of all those trapped in a job that can only exist because of government subsidy.

He continued: “Today, we’re introducing a new policy to reward and incentivise employers who successfully bring furloughed staff back – a new jobs retention bonus.

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“It’s vital people aren’t just returning for the sake of it – they need to be doing decent work.

“So for businesses to get the bonus, the employee must be paid at least £520 on average, in each month from November to the end of January.

“Our message to business is clear: if you stand by your workers, we will stand by you.”

More than 9.4 million people have been put on furlough across the UK, with the UK Government covering up to 80% of their salaries, at a cost of £27.4bn, according to the latest figures.

The scheme began allowing for furloughed staff to begin flexible work from July, with employers covering progressively more of their salaries each month until the scheme winds down completely in three months.

In numbers: How coronavirus has taken its toll on Scotland

We take a look at the statistics showing Covid-19's spread throughout the country.

STV
Coronavirus: More than 10,000 confirmed cases in Scotland.

On March 1, 2020, the first case of coronavirus in Scotland was confirmed.

As cases began to climb, the deaths began, with the first in Scotland confirmed in the Lothian area on March 13.

Society has been transformed by the global Covid-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to control the disease.

Here, we take a look at the statistics which show how the virus has spread throughout the country.

Covid-19 deaths in Scotland

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There are two different sets of figures tallying coronavirus deaths in Scotland, which can be confusing.

Every day, the Scottish Government publishes figures on deaths produced by Health Protection Scotland (HPS).

These only include confirmed Covid-19 cases – in other words, they had a test and tested positive.

But every week, National Records of Scotland (NRS) publishes the numbers of everyone who has died with Covid-19 cited on their death certificate – including both confirmed and suspected cases.

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The last ten weeks running have seen falls in the number of registered Covid-19 deaths.

However, these weekly figures (published every Wednesday) only go up to the previous Sunday.

As of Sunday, July 5, a total of 4173 deaths had occurred involving Covid-19.

So, in order to arrive at the most up-to-date total possible, STV combines the weekly figures with the most recent daily figures. This only produces a minimum, not exact death toll, as it does not include all suspected cases.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland / Health Protection Scotland
Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

NB: Registrations of deaths with NRS can be up to eight days after actual date of death.

Deaths recorded by HPS tend to fall over the weekend due to under-reporting.

Covid-19 cases in Scotland

Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Scotland quickly rose as the pandemic spread in March and April.

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But now, new daily cases are also down from an average of 315 in the first full week of April to nine in the week ending July 5.

While these represent real trends, the figures are believed to be an underestimate on the true number of infectious people in Scotland – currently thought to be around 1500.

NB: From June 15, thousands of new cases were added to the official figures from UK Government-managed drive-through test centres.

Case data before that only counted results from NHS labs, therefore it is no longer included in our cumulative graph.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland
Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

Recoveries

The Scottish Government began in April giving figures on how many people hospitalised with coronavirus have been able to go home since the pandemic began.

Since March 5, more than 4100 confirmed Covid-19 patients have been discharged from hospitals around Scotland to continue their recovery.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

Hospital and ICU admissions

The daily numbers of people in an intensive care unit (ICU) or a high dependency unit (HDU) with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 peaked on April 12, with 221 admissions.

Since then, that figure has been in steady decline, and is now consistently under 20.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

The highest number of patients in Scottish hospitals overall occurred on April 21, when 1866 people were being treated for confirmed or suspected cases of the virus.

Coronavirus testing

The Scottish Government says a policy of test, trace, isolate – dubbed “test and protect” – will be crucial as lockdown restrictions begin to ease and officials attempt to prevent a second wave of Covid-19.

In March, policy in Scotland and the UK turned away from testing every suspected case, against the advice of the World Health Organisation.

How will Scotland’s coronavirus test-and-trace system work? Read now

But that has changed again as of May 28: anyone who develops Covid-19 symptoms – a cough, a fever or a loss of smell or taste – should immediately book a test.

The Scottish Government has been ramping up mass testing and claims the country now has total testing capacity of 15,500 per day, combining NHS labs and the UK Government-managed Lighthouse super-lab in Glasgow.

It hasn’t yet ever come close to meeting that capacity.

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

Health boards

Covid-19 cases by health board

The most confirmed Covid-19 cases in Scotland are in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, with nearly 5000.

The least amount of confirmed cases are on the Western Isles (seven) and Orkney (nine).

Chart: STV News – Source: Health Protection Scotland

Deaths by health board

There have been 1328 deaths of confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, followed by Lothian on 720 and Lanarkshire on 581.

NHS Western Isles has recorded zero deaths so far, while there have been two on Orkney and seven in the Shetland Islands.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Death rate per 10,000 of population

On June 14, the National Records of Scotland published new data giving the age-standardised death rates in health board areas.

They are considered more accurate than crude death rates where deaths and population size are measured against each other.

Instead, age-standardised death rates adjust for age demographics in the population, for example, if there are more older people or more younger people within the population compared to others.

Between March and May – the period the new data covers – the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region had the highest death rate, with 50 deaths per 10,000 – or five people per thousand succumbing to the virus.

Lanarkshire, Lothian and Forth Valley had an age-standardised Covid death rate of 30 per 10,000 or higher.

Ayrshire and Arran, Tayside and Fife had a rate of 20 deaths per 10,000 or higher.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Covid-19 deaths by setting

A total of 46% of all coronavirus-linked deaths have occurred in care homes.

They account for fractionally more deaths than in hospitals (also 46%), while fewer than one in ten (7%) died at home, a non-institutional setting or another institutional setting.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Covid-19 deaths by council area

West Dunbartonshire has the highest age-standardised death rate in the country, with a rate of more than six residents per 1000, or 61 per 10,000, dying with the virus.

Other local authority areas with high death rates – typically ones with urban populations and substantial pockets of poverty – include Midlothian, Glasgow, Inverclyde and Dundee.

Ten highest death rates

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Remote and rural areas typically had the lowest age-standardised death rates, with a rate of seven deaths per 10,000 in both Highland council area and Moray.

In Orkney, where there have been only two deaths, and Western Isles, where there have been zero, no death rate has been calculated.

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

In terms of sheer numbers, a total of 646 Glasgow residents have died with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – the highest in Scotland – with 423 in Edinburgh.

There have been been at least 100 deaths reported in 17 of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.

Table: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

Covid-19 deaths by age and gender

More than three quarters of coronavirus-linked deaths (77%) in Scotland are of people over 75.

Of that age group, 54% of deaths are women, rising to 61% in the over-85s category, which reflects the fact the elderly population has more women than men.

Overall, there is a 50/50 split between men and women in terms of the proportion of Covid-19 deaths, with slightly more women dying (2095 to 2078 men).

But among people aged 45 to 74, nearly twice as many men as women have died (64% to 36%).

Chart: STV News – Source: National Records of Scotland

A total of 28 people aged 15 to 44 have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus in Scotland so far – 14 male and 14 female.

Boy who raped woman at knifepoint detained for seven years

The attack took place when the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was just 14 .

High Court: Teenage rapist detained for seven years (file pic).

A teenager who abducted a 20-year-old woman at knifepoint, forced her to strip naked and then raped her has been detained for seven years.

The attack took place when the teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was just 14 .

The schoolboy, now 15, pled guilty to abducting the woman, putting a knife at her neck, threatening her and then raping her in an area of wasteland in Methill, Fife, on January 29, last year.

At the High Court in Glasgow judge Lady Stacey told the 15-year-old, who sat in the dock: “What you did was very serious and it must have been very frightening for the young woman. It has had a serious effect on her life.

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“This wasn’t acceptable behaviour.”

Lady Stacey told the teenager she accepted he was remorseful and added: “You will receive help in detention and you may not be such a danger as you were that night.”

She said: “It is up to you to take advantage of the help you are given and grow up and become a useful member of society.”

Prosecutor Derick Nelson said the woman was walking in Kirkland Road in Methil at around 8pm when the accused approached her and threatened her with a knife.

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The teenager forced her towards a secluded area of waste ground in nearby Laird Avenue, where she was raped.

The court heard that the woman was walking towards shops and noticed the teenager walking behind her.

Mr Nelson said: “As he crossed the road, he ran towards her, placed his arms around her shoulders, held a knife to her neck and threatened to kill her should she not do as he asked.”

He demanded that she remove all her clothing and lie on the ground and fearing for her life she complied.

The terrified woman tried to scream and the teen put his hand over her mouth to prevent her from doing so.

He did this with such force he scratched her gums.

While he raped her he put the knife in his jacket pocket and the woman managed to grab it.

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Mr Nelson said: “He immediately got to his feet and pleaded with her to give him back his knife, stating that he would not stab her.”

The woman ran off naked, screaming and carrying the knife.

She believed he initially gave chase, but she managed to get help from two men working at a nearby garage and she shouted: “Help me, he’s going to kill me.”

They gave her overalls to wear and dialled 999. During the call, one of the men said: “She is cowering on the floor.”

The woman was covered in cuts and bruises.

The schoolboy was snared after police carried out door-to-door inquiries and showed photographs of the knife.

It was recognised by a relative of the teen who said it had gone missing months ago. This led detectives to the accused.

His DNA was recovered from the knife and from her body.

The teenager was placed on the sex offenders’ register.

Solicitor advocate Iain Paterson, defending the boy, said: “He is remorseful.

“He never wanted to be in this position and hopes the treatment he receives will ensure this doesn’t happen.

“He has been diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder.”


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