A RETIRED music teacher who abused two pupils almost 40 years ago has been jailed for four years. 

William Wright, 78, preyed on the teenage girls while they were at an East Renfrewshire school.

One woman, now aged 54, told a jury she was “terrified” of Wright. 

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The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told jurors she felt helpless at being unable to object to the abuse because she needed his help for exams. 

On Tuesday, Wright, of Elderslie, was sentenced after judge Lord Arthurson told the pensioner he would be jailed.

Passing sentence at the High Court in Edinburgh, Lord Arthurson told Wright he had no other option but to reject defence lawyer Mark Moir’s request for a non-custodial sentence.

He said: “I cannot accept that a non-custodial disposal can be imposed in this case. This court needs to hold you to account for your deplorable and predatorial conduct. Your behaviour has caused your victims who are now aged in their 50s, significant and lasting psychological problems. 

“Your conviction has been catastrophic for you. Nonetheless, this court needs to impose a significant custodial sentence.”

During proceedings at the High Court in Glasgow last month, the grandad-of-eight claimed he had “no explanation” for the allegations.

But jurors convicted him of two charges of using lewd and libidinous practices and behaviour and a charge of indecent assault towards the two women between August 1974 and June 1981. A police probe into the married dad-of-three led to the women, now 54 and 57, being traced.

The 54-year-old fought back tears in court as she said she was “too afraid” to speak up at the time about what was happening to her.

She told prosecution lawyer Sheena Fraser: “I was terrified. He had a temper and I didn’t put up any objection. I was 13 to 14 years of age. at this stage decided I wanted to do music when I left school – I needed him. There was nobody to go to, it was only him, there was nobody else you could do your music lessons with.”

The Gazette:

Edinburgh High Court, where Wright was sentenced 

Wright often put his fingers inside her shirt and underwear while in a practise room and would brazenly carry out the abuse at times while she sat at the piano with him, sometimes while other pupils sat at the other side of it.

She said: “He would on occasion take my hand and put it in his pocket.” and described how he would have her touch his private parts.

In her sixth year at school, Wright carried out a sex attack on her in a cupboard.

She said: “He took me by the wrist, and took me into the music cupboard. He locked us both in and then pushed me down on the floor.”

Wright attacked her, then told her “not to come out for a couple of minutes”.

He then gave the tearful schoolgirl a run home because she had missed her bus.

Wright, who sometimes plays the organ at Elderslie Kirk, denied any wrongdoing and said he was “quite gutted” at the suggestion he was a predator.

In evidence he told the jury: “It just wasn’t me. Simple as that, it just wasn’t me.”

On Tuesday, Wright turned up for sentencing with a sports bag carrying his personal possessions. 

Mr Moir told the court that his client maintained his innocence but accepted the verdicts.

Mr Moir said Wright had been assessed at a low risk of reoffending and asked for a non-custodial sentence, but Lord Arthurson said he had no choice. 

The advocate said that with these factors available, Lord Arthurson could consider imposing a non custodial sentence.

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Mr Moir said: “I’m inviting your lordship to consider the possibility of a non custodial sentence.

“Mr Wright is now 78-years-old and although he is in good health any custodial sentence at this time in his life would amount to a life sentence.”

However, Lord Arthurson told Wright he had no other choice but to jail him.