Rapist’s confession was recorded ‘from his death bed’

The woman confronted the sex attacker while he was 'gravely ill', but he recovered and has now been jailed.

John Harper was jailed at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday. Google 2019
John Harper was jailed at the High Court in Glasgow on Wednesday.

A rape victim recorded her abuser confessing to attacking her 25 years earlier as he lay apparently dying in hospital.

John Harper pounced on the woman after holding a soldering iron at her neck and threatening to kill her.

The crime occurred in 1993 at a house in Hurlford, Ayrshire.

But the victim did not see the 56 year-old again until July 2018 after being told Harper was “gravely ill” at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock.

Prosecutor Kath Harper told the High Court in Glasgow: “She felt she needed an explanation from him as to why he had raped her years ago.

“She attended at the hospital and recorded a conversation with Harper on her mobile phone. He apologised to her and admitted that he had raped her.

“She then contacted police and handed over her mobile phone.”

Harper was arrested in Glasgow’s Barlinnie jail in March 2019. By that time, he had been able to leave hospital and was serving 12-and-a-half years for separate sexual offences.

Harper – now in a wheelchair – was hauled back to court where he admitted to a rape charge. He was ordered to serve an extra four years for the attack.

The hearing was told how the victim – then in her late teens – ended up “crying all night” after her ordeal.

She initially went to police in 1994, but was unable to face a medical examination.

The woman went back three years later. A report was filed to prosecutors, but there were no further proceedings “due to a lack of sufficiency”.

She then confronted Harper in 2018 despite having no contact with him for more than 20 years.

Lorraine Glancy, defending, said: “It is fair to say in his discussion with (the woman) he indicated his regret at his conduct.”

Harper was told the sentence was less that what would usually be imposed, taking into account the jail term he is already serving.

Sturgeon: Don’t take us back to lockdown square one

The First Minister urged the public not to go too far as some 'cautious changes' are made to ease restrictions.

Nicola Sturgeon has urged Scots not to “take us back to square one” in tackling coronavirus on the day some lockdown measures were eased.

With people from two households now able to meet outdoors, and travel to local beauty spots and outdoor sports such as golf and tennis also permitted, the First Minister called on the public to be responsible

On the relaxation of some restrictions, she said: “They are deliberately, and by necessity, cautious changes and they have been very carefully assessed.”

She repeated remarks from Thursday that she is “nervous” about the modifications to the lockdown, and warned people they must stick within the parameters the Scottish Government has outlined.


Scotland has now entered phase one of a four-stage plan to gradually lift Covid-19 restrictions.

People can sit outside in public spaces, sunbathe, travel locally (ideally not more than five miles) for recreation or exercise and meet members of one other household outside per day, while keeping socially distanced from them.

But indoor meetings with other households are still not allowed, meetings anywhere of more than two households are not allowed and the majority of businesses remain closed.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily press briefing on Friday, the First Minister said bending the new rules could increase transmission of Covid-19 by giving the virus “bridges to jump across”.


She continued: “We could see the virus spread quickly again and that would take us back to square one.

“I’m not trying to cramp anyone’s fun this weekend… but I am asking you to please do so responsibly.

“I’m appealing to your judgement and to your sense of solidarity with each other.”

Sturgeon added: “However harsh these rules might feel right now, and I know that they do, abiding by them will never, ever be as harsh as grieving the loss of a loved one.”

A total of 15 more people in Scotland with coronavirus have died, taking the death toll including suspected Covid-19 cases to 3840.

But for the seventh day in a row, new confirmed cases of the virus are under 100, with just 39 reported in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s total since the pandemic began to 15,327.

Officials estimate that as of last week there was 19,000 infectious people in Scotland, down from 25,000 the week before.


There are 22 fewer people in Scottish hospitals with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, down to 1216, with a slight rise of three in the numbers in intensive care, up to 40.

The FM said those attending picnics and barbecues this weekend with one other household should bring their own cups, plates and cutlery, keep two metres apart from the members of the other household and avoid touching any hard surfaces.

You should not go into anyone else’s house, for example, to use their bathroom. If you need go into a house to access a private garden, you should do it quickly and not touch any surfaces.

Non-contact outdoor sports and activities, including golf, tennis, fishing, bowls, water sports and outdoor, one-on-one personal training and coaching can resume, but only if two-metre distancing is observed and you don’t put yourself or anyone else at risk.

Garden centres and plant nurseries can also reopen, while drive-through food and drink outlets can resume work and constructions firms can begin building site preparations.

The First Minister said if people aren’t sure if their specific plans for the weekend are within the rules, they should “err on the side of caution”.

But thanking the public for observing the lockdown to date, she added: “I have never been prouder of this country than I am right now.”

Also speaking at the briefing, the Scottish Government’s national clinical director Jason Leitch urged Scots: “Please don’t take phase one lightly.”

He said Scots should continue to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly and maintain good cough and hand hygiene – sneezing or coughing into a tissue or their elbow, and trying to avoid touching your face.

Sturgeon also addressed the future of the manufacturing industry in Scotland as a result of the pandemic.

She said the sector had proven just how important it is, with companies coming forward to help produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitiser.

The First Minister told the briefing that most of the manufacturing sector will have to remain closed during phase one of the lockdown easing, but they will be allowed to prepare for return to business in phase two.

Sturgeon said: “I’m announcing today that we’re providing an additional £20m of funding for Scotland’s new National Manufacturing Institute (NMI), bringing our total investment to £75m.”

The First Minister also announced that the contract to build the NMI building, which will be operated by the University of Strathclyde, has been awarded.

She said 12 new projects will be funded to help boost small and medium-sized businesses.

Phase One Friday: What exactly are you allowed to do now?

There is a four-phase plan to lift lockdown which begins today - but what does it mean in practice?

Getty Images/SNS
Easing lockdown: What is now permitted?

The sun’s out, the summer is near enough upon us and some lockdown restrictions have been eased.

This will understandably be cause for celebration around the country but the advice – the plea – from the Scottish Government is: please don’t go nuts.

Yes, we have entered phase one of the Scottish route out of lockdown – but it’s only the first phase of four.

Nicola Sturgeon spoke on Thursday of being “nervous” about the lifting of some measures, saying: “I worry that the limited changes that we’re making to these rules might lead to much greater change in reality.”


“I really need your help to make sure that is not the case,” she added.

The First Minister fears that if people take liberties it could undermine the “real but fragile” progress made driving down Covid-19 deaths, hospital admissions and case numbers.

So what has exactly changed as of Friday – and what are you allowed to do?

Going out and meeting others

For a few weeks now, we’ve been able to go out for as much daily exercise – or take our dogs out for as much daily exercise – as we need.


Now, we are also permitted to sit outside in a public space like a park or on a bench to relax, sunbathe, eat lunch or whatever else.

We can also do any of those things both with members of our own household and people from one other household per day.

However, you must maintain a two-metre distance between you and the other household, and ensure good cough and hand hygiene – if you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your elbow, keep your hands clean and try not to touch your face.

Take an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with you and use it often, especially before eating or after touching surfaces, and try to avoid touching hard surfaces such as gates, walls, fences and park benches.

The advice is that any such meeting, say, a picnic in the park with friends, or a barbecue in the garden with family, should have no more than eight people present, comprised of no more than two households.

It also means that if, for example, four people live in your house, each person should not go off on their own to meet people from four separate households.

Each household should only mix with one other household each day – to minimise the risks of spreading the virus.


And if you are having a picnic, a barbecue, or a few drinks, each household should bring their own cups, plates and cutlery.

Any surfaces both households touch should be wiped down and everyone should wash their hands frequently.

Finally, you should not go inside anyone else’s house – meetings should be entirely outdoors. If you expect the meeting will result in you needing the toilet at some point, you shouldn’t go.

If you have to go through a house to access a garden, do that quickly and without touching surfaces.

These rules are not to be confused with the new guidance in England, where people from more than two households are allowed to meet outdoors but in numbers of no more than six.


We are now allowed to travel to places in our local area for recreation or exercise.

Ideally, we should travel on foot, by bicycle or by car if we have to – but try to avoid public transport.

In the event you do use public transport, for any reason, you should wear a mask or face covering, while doing your best to stay socially-distanced from others.

The Scottish Government says we should limit any travel to five miles – but this is advisory rather than the letter of the law.

For example, if you want to go see your mum in her garden but she lives further away than that, you can do it.

But be mindful of the public health guidance about not going inside anyone else’s house – if it can’t be done safely, the advice is, don’t do it.

Unless absolutely essential, you shouldn’t travel to and from the islands in order to prevent the spread of the virus to more remote communities.

You should avoid travelling to tourist hotspots and beauty spots that are not in your local area.

If you arrive somewhere, like a park or beach, which is crowded and where physical distancing is difficult, use your common sense and go somewhere else.

If you (or a person in your care) have a specific health condition that requires you to travel beyond your local area to maintain your health, then do that.

If you have a disability and need to travel a bit further to find appropriate outdoor space or to exercise or take part in an outdoor activity safely, you can do that too – for example, if you use a wheelchair and need a location that has accessible parking and level access.

Outdoor activities and sport

There has been a relaxation on restrictions of most non-contact outdoor sport and activities.

All the same rules above still apply: you must keep socially-distanced, be hygienic and not put yourself or others at risk.

Most importantly, you must not do any of these sports or activities with more than one other household per day

For example, events such as organised races, walking club trips and cycle club rides involving people from more than two households are not allowed.

But the Scottish Government has produced a non-exhaustive list of the types of outdoor activities that are now allowed:

  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Fishing
  • Athletics
  • Lawn bowls
  • Canoeing, surfing and water sports
  • Horse riding
  • Croquet
  • Archery
  • Cycling
  • Walking

Indoor sports facilities such as gyms remain closed.

However, one-on-one personal training or coaching is permitted provided it is outdoors and with either a member of your household or one other household.

If the coach is trainer is from another household to your own, only go ahead if you are able to keep two metres apart.

A coach or personal trainer should not deliver training to more than one household at any one time or provide training to more than one household per day.

You should both avoid touching surfaces, where possible, touching surfaces, sharing equipment or touching your mouth and face.

Wipe down any surfaces or equipment you do touch and wash your hands before and after your activity.


The majority of businesses must still stay closed in phase one, including non-essential retail, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and most offices.

However, with the focus on outdoor activity in phase one, garden centres and plant nurseries have been permitted to reopen with physical distancing in place

However, any accompanying cafes cannot yet open, unless for takeaway only.

Drive-through food and drink outlets can begin to resume work.

Construction firms, meanwhile, can begin their first phase of restarting work by getting building sites prepared.

Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided the worker is well, not showing coronavirus symptoms and neither they nor any of their household are self-isolating.

People who work on their own outside, like gardeners, window cleaners or people working in rural areas, can work if it can be done safely.

And businesses that are allowed to reopen in phase two can begin preparing for the return of staff – including small retail shops, outdoor markets and pubs, restaurants and cafes with outdoor spaces.

Beer gardens, for example, will be allowed to reopen in phase two – but strictly confined to outside.

Other businesses in this category include factories, warehouses and lab and research facilities.

Travel agents, while still staying closed, may take bookings online or on the phone for future dates.

Schools and gatherings

From Monday, teachers and other staff will be able to return to schools to prepare for re-opening.

However, most pupils in Scotland will not return until the new term on August 11.

Public gatherings of more than two households are still not permitted for any reason, with weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies in public spaces still restricted.

The only exception is a gathering that is essential for work purposes, or to fulfil legal obligations.

However, companies should try to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace and practice physical distancing and good hygiene.

As before, funerals can take place attended by close family or other members of the deceased’s household.

If no family member or member of the same household is able to attend, a friend living in a separate household can attend.

Face coverings

You should wear a mask or covering over your mouth and nose when you are in a closed, indoor space like a shop or on public transport.

This is not yet mandatory in Scotland but a recommendation.

But evidence suggests it has a weak but noticeable effect in reducing transmission of coronavirus – chiefly protecting others, like shop workers and train ticket collecters, rather than the mask-wearer themselves.

That’s because people infected spread the virus from respiratory droplets produced by breathing, talking, coughing or sneezing – wearing a mask blocks you from passing those to someone else.

You may not think you’ve got – or have ever had – coronavirus, but the science suggests a significant proportion of Covid carriers do so with very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

In pictures: Scots enjoy the sunshine as lockdown eases

People are flocking to sun traps to reunite with loved ones as the first phase of the journey out of lockdown begins.

Sunbathers flock to Troon Beach as lockdown starts to ease.

Sunbathers are out in force after the gradual route out of the coronavirus lockdown kicked off on Friday.

With temperatures expected to hit as high as 29C, people are flocking to parks and sun traps to safely reunite with loved ones.

As of Fridaymorning, Scots are allowed to meet friends or relatives from one other household outdoors.

Golfers can return to their local courses and keen shoppers can visit garden centres for their summer essentials.


People are also permitted to go outside as much as they like, sit in parks and other public spaces and soak up the sunshine.

People descend on Troon Beach as lockdown measures begin to ease. SNS Group.
Locals gather next to the seaside. SNS Group.
Many take a dip in the sea as temperatures soar. SNS Group.
People head to Portobello Beach in Edinburgh to enjoy the heat.
Locals soak up the sun next to the Clyde.
Cyclists take advantage of the weather in Glasgow.
Sunbathers take their spots on the grass at Glasgow Green.
Locals enjoy the weather while social distancing.
Customers at Dobbies Garden Centre in Edinburgh. SNS Group.
Shoppers browse summer range at the garden centre. SNS Group
Shoppers browse plants at Cardwell in Inverkip.
Shoppers queue outside the garden centre.
Golfers return to the links at Royal Troon as lockdown restrictions are eased. SNS Group.
Signage asks golfers to keep two metres apart at Cathcart golf club. SNS Group.
Staff at Bruntsfield Links show Covid-19 warning signs for the return of golfers. SNS Group.
Warning flag on display. SNS Group.
Social distancing guidelines as golfers return to action. SNS Group.
Golfers take advantage of the weather and rule changes. SNS Group.

Two dead and man arrested after ‘disturbance’ at house

Police are treating the incident at a house in Inverness as 'suspicious'.

Police remain at the scene of the disturbance on Friday morning.

Two men have died following a “disturbance” at a house in Inverness.

Police said a man had been arrested and that they were treating the incident as “suspicious”.

The men – who have not yet been identified – died at a house in Balloan Road on Thursday night.

Emergency services were called to the scene around 10pm.


Detective chief inspector David Hadden said: “Enquiries are ongoing and at a very early stage.

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased at this difficult time. I would like to take this opportunity to stress that there is no threat to the wider community.

“This appears to have been a contained incident, however there will be a significant police presence in the area while our investigation continues. I would like to thank local residents for their patience meantime.

“Anyone with information about this incident, who has not yet spoken to the police, is asked to contact 101 quoting reference number 4347 of 28 May, 2020. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 to remain completely anonymous.”

Some school children set to return to classes in June

Primary seven pupils and nursery children in their pre-school year in East Renfrewshire will go back on June 15.

Most pupils won't be back at school before August.

Children in “key transition groups” will return to school on Monday June 15 in East Renfrewshire, the council has announced.

Nursery children in their pre-school year and current P7s will return to educational settings on a rota basis, following all national social distancing guidance.

The council said it is important children in these groups have a chance to return to school before the summer holidays to “lay the foundations” for learning in the next session.

It is thought East Renfrewshire Council is the first local authority to announce its plans for children returning to school.


Pupils across Scotland are expected to return from August 11 in Scotland with a combination of in-school teaching and at-home learning.

Teachers will be allowed to return to classrooms from Monday June 1 to prepare.

East Renfrewshire Council’s convener for education and equalities Paul O’Kane said: “It is important that the pupils in the key transition groups get the opportunity to return to a school setting before the summer holidays to lay the foundations for the important learning which will take place in the next session.

“We have put plans in place to ensure social distancing is adhered to within our schools and look forward to welcoming this small group of pupils back.


“It has been a difficult time for all, especially young people who are missing their friends and the normality of school.

“This is the first step on our road to recovery and we will provide details of the approach which will be taken to blended learning in August as soon as is possible.”

The hub schools currently operating in East Renfrewshire for the children of key workers will stop at 3pm on Friday June 5 and all the pupils who have been attending the hubs will return to attending their normal primary or secondary school from Monday June 8.

Other local authorities are still considering their plans.

The sun has got its hat on as lockdown begins to lift

Welcome stretch of hot weather may go some way to making up for shelved holiday plans this summer.

And there was you thinking the minute lockdown was starting to ease that the storm clouds would gather, but instead the sunshine keeps on giving…

Thursday was Scotland’s warmest day of the year so far with the mercury hitting a high of 25.7C in Leuchars, Fife. Edinburgh wasn’t far behind with a high of 24.6C and Aboyne hit 24.4C.

While the most intense heat on Thursday was focused on the east of the country, today this shifts further west. I expect some of the highest temperatures today to be around Glasgow, Moray and the north and east Highlands where temperature could end up around 25C by the middle of the afternoon. At this time of year the highest temperature usually occurs somewhere between 3pm and 6pm.

In the southerly air flow, additional warming may occur as air descends from mountains in the north of the country, meaning that places like Aviemore, Aberlour, Elgin, Achnasheen, Altass, Oykel Bridge and Altnaharra could achieve some of the highest temperatures. Here we could reach as high as 28-29C, which is pretty exceptional stuff for May. The last time the temperature exceeded 29C was at the end of August.


If we do reach 28-29C in the north of the country, this will take us fairly close to some of our May records, and in a few spots could break them. For example in Aviemore, the highest May temperature ever recorded here is 28.1C back in 2012. Records there go back 36 years. This is significant enough, but it would be even more so if Kinloss breached its previous record of 28.3C set in 1992 as the records here go back 68 years. While it looks like Moray will be one of the hot spots today, it’s likely that sea breezes could develop and hold the temperature back in coastal areas, making the Kinloss record harder to break than more inland areas.

With summer holiday plans shelved for most of us, this long spell of mainly fine weather during lockdown has been very welcome. I found myself last night playing Gypsy Kings on the stereo as a warm 20 degree breeze blew in the window – honest I could have been on an all-inclusive in the Costa del Sol. While some of us will be splashing in paddling pools today and pretending we’re somewhere exotic, it’s not the same for all parts of the country.

Some haar and low cloud could affect eastern Shetland, the Beauly and Cromarty Firth, as well as the Moray Firth at times which would really hold back the temperature. Shetland today is likely to reach about 13C at best today, and the Aberdeenshire and Angus coast could also see temperatures pegged back in the mid-to-high teens due to onshore breezes.

The fine, warm and sunny weather will last through the weekend and into the start of next week for most parts of the country. A change looks as if it’ll come later next week with more showery and cooler conditions returning.


With just over three weeks until the summer solstice, the sun doesn’t get much stronger than it is just now so make sure you have plenty of suntan lotion with you this weekend. Enjoy!

Boy, 14, attacked by armed gang in school grounds

Teenager and friends were in the grounds of St Andrew's High School, Easterhouse, when they were approached by armed men.

Police probe: The boy was attacked in grounds of St Andrew's High School.

A 14-year-old boy is in hospital after he was attacked by an armed gang at a school in Glasgow.

The teenager and his friends were in the grounds of St Andrew’s High School in Easterhouse, when they were approached by the group “of four or five males”, some of which had large bladed weapons.

The boy was taken to hospital after suffering serious injuries to his body, during the incident around 6pm on Thursday.

Detective constable Claire Cunningham said: “The boy was playing with his friends when they were attacked by the group within the grounds of the school. He is currently recovering in hospital.


“The reason for the attack is unknown at this time and we are looking to trace four or five males who are described as all wearing dark clothing.”

Anyone with information regarding the incident can contact police on 101.

Scottish football chiefs want new season to start in August

Football's governing bodies will hold talks with the Scottish Government on Friday.

It's hoped clubs in Scotland can resume training on June 10.

Scottish football’s governing bodies will ask for permission to start the new season in August.

Bosses from the Scottish FA and SPFL will hold a meeting with the Scottish Government on Friday to discuss football’s return.

They hope clubs can restart training on June 10 with matches resuming – probably behind closed doors – on August 1.

Professional sport will be permitted when the country enters phase two in its routemap out of coronavirus lockdown. Some fans will be allowed into stadiums when phase three begins.


The next review of the restrictions is due to take place on June 18.

The 2019/20 SPFL season has been brought to an end, with Celtic declared Premiership champions and Hearts relegated to the Championship.

However, the Tynecastle club have put forward a last-ditch attempt to revamp the league structure.

Some non-contact sports, such as golf and tennis, were able to resume on Friday morning as Scotland entered phase one of the routemap.

Rapist attacked woman at takeaway restaurant he owned

Man, 60, jailed for six years after abducting woman and raping her at his fast-food restaurant in Aberdeen.

Behroz Hamedi was sentenced by a judge at the High Court in Edinburgh.

A takeaway owner who abducted and raped a vulnerable young woman at his fast-food restaurant has been jailed for six years.

Behroz Hamedi assaulted the intoxicated 21-year-old victim after she became separated from friends on a night out in Aberdeen city centre.

Hamedi, 60, locked her in Marco’s Fast Food in the city’s Belmont Street before carrying out a sustained attack.

A judge told him at the High Court in Edinburgh: “This was, in my view, an opportunistic sexual crime with a predatory component.”


Lord Arthurson said the seriousness of the offence required that a substantial custodial sentence by imposed.

The judge said that the sex crime appeared to be “wholly out of character” but noted that Hamedi appeared to minimise his criminal conduct during discussions with a social worker who prepared a background report on him.

Hamedi, formerly of Pine Crescent Walk, Bieldside, Aberdeen, had earlier denied raping the woman at the food premises on November 1 in 2018, but was found guilty after a trial.

Lord Arthurson told him: “Your defence of consent was plainly rejected.”


During the attack on the victim, who was intoxicated with drink, Hamedi kissed her and performed a sex act on her before going on to rape her. She was incapable of consenting due to her condition.

The woman told his trial that she could not say how she arrived at the takeaway and said there was “no way” she could have consented because she was “just too drunk”.

Hamedi had been due to be sentenced for the rape last month but the case was continued until today to get a report from a psychologist after it emerged he was previously diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at a clinic in Iran.

Defence counsel David Moggach told the court that Professor Gary Macpherson had found “no compelling evidence” of Asperger’s.

He said Hamedi has always maintained that he believed the woman knew what she was doing and was consenting.

He said Hamedi, a married man, had come to the UK when he was 18 to better himself, but his parents were still in Iran.

Mr Moggach said: “I would submit he has been a hard-working man, trying to make the most of the opportunities he has had to provide for his family and himself.”


The defence counsel said that since his conviction many people had written expressing their “shock and surprise” at what had happened.

He said the offence appeared to be opportunistic rather than planned and added: “He clearly badly misread the situation.”

Mr Moggach said that Hamedi was earlier freed on bail in November 2018 and placed under a curfew, which meant he could not work and effectively deprived him of his livelihood.

He said Hamedi could not visit Iran to see his father. Hamedi, who followed proceedings with a TV link to prison, was told he will be on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.

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