Waverley captain guilty of abusing boys on paddle steamer

David Neill forced his victims to give evidence in court after denying the charges.

Waverley captain guilty of abusing boys on paddle steamer Spindrift
Neill captained the Waverley from 1975 to 1997.

A former captain of the Waverley has been convicted of sexually abusing three teenage boys on board the paddle steamer more than 30 years ago.

David Neill, 75, of Galston, Ayrshire, denied the charges against him and forced his victims to give evidence at the High Court in Glasgow.

The victims, who are all now in their 50s, had to relive their ordeal at the hands of Neill, who captained the Waverley from 1975 to 1997.

The court heard Neill lured all three teenagers in with the promise of jobs on the ship and then a career in the Navy.

Judge Tom Hughes described the abuse as “appalling and horrendous”.

The four charges of indecent assault were committed between March 1982 and September 1987.

Police began investigating Neill after one of the victims came forward a couple of years ago.

A 51-year-old man said Neill sexually abused him while he was working as a steward on the ship and then claimed it was a joke.

He said: “ I was very confused and full of shame. The captain said it was just a joke. I didn’t find it funny.”

He claimed that on another night he was drunk and sleeping in the captain’s cabin and again woke to find Neil sexually abusing him.

The man said that he suffers from “flashbacks” including memories of the way Neill smelled which he described as being “sweat and Old Spice.”

A 53-year-old man also told the jury he was sexually assaulted by Neill.

He said he worked as a galley boy on the ship for a couple of months before jumping ship in Fort William.

The witness, who gave evidence via a video link from Canada, said Neill also abused him on a car journey between his home in Ayrshire and the Waverley, which was docked in Glasgow.

Another 51-year-old, who worked as a steward and then a deck hand, said that Neil asked him if he was a virgin and added: “He said I was to pretend he was a woman.”

He said he was twice abused in the captain’s cabin. On both occasions he woke up to find Neil lying beside him.

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Neill captained the Waverley from 1975 to 1997 STV

Neil did not give evidence, but denied the allegations and when interviewed by police said: “I’m aghast at it all, I really am. There is no way I would be interested in sex with any males.”

Neill was placed on the sex offenders’ register and remanded. He will be sentenced later this month.

Neill was jailed for three years in 1998 at Glasgow Sheriff Court after being found guilty of abusing five teenage boys in his cabin.

The offences took place in the captain’s cabin while the Waverley was on trips on the Clyde or berthed at Anderston Quay, Glasgow, between 1981 and 1987.