A RENTON serial sex offender who abused three young girls – one when she was just three years old – has been convicted of four charges.

James Smellie, 68, showed no emotion as he sat in the dock at Dumbarton Sheriff Court this week and heard a jury return guilty verdicts on four of the five charges he faced following a week-long trial.

The offences stretch back to 1972, with the last attack happening 30 years ago in 1987.

Smellie, of Cordale Road, was convicted by majority after 90 minutes of deliberations. He was found guilty of three charges of lewd and libidinous practices and behaviour towards children, one of indecent assault and one of breach of the peace.

All three of his victims, who are all adults now aged between 40 and 55, gave evidence from behind screens. During their evidence the court was also closed to the press and public following a direction from Sheriff Maxwell Hendry.

When Smellie took to the witness box he denied any of the offences took place.

The four offences he was convicted of all happened at a house in Renton. The jury found the case against him not proven on a fifth charge of lewd and libidinous behaviour and practices towards a child at house in Dumbarton.

During his charge to the jury, Sheriff Hendry told them: “You will have to factor into your thoughts the passage of time. The Crown does not have to prove any motive or intention.

“It is not in doubt they were under the age of puberty at the time and that he knew that. The accused says these things simply did not happen.

“The Crown case depends entirely on the evidence of the three women.”

His campaign of terror began between July 1, 1972 and August 31, 1972 in Renton, where he took an eight-year-old girl by the hand, and lead her to his bedroom. He got her to lie down on the bed and induced her to sit on his lap and instructed her to perform a sex act on him.

Then between October 18, 1975 and October 17, 1981 he sexually attacked another girl aged between three and eight. He induced her to sit on his bed by lifting her onto the bed. He then instructed her to carry out a sex act on him.

A charge of breach of the peace took place on an occasion between October 18, 1984 and August 26, 1987 at a house in Renton, when the girl was aged between 12 and 14. He followed her outside, threw money at her, made a suggestive remark and attempted to get her to return to the property.

The sheriff said: “She swore at him and ran away, horrified and embarrassed.”

The final charge he was convicted of happened on an occasion between August 28, 1986 and August 27, 1987 at a house in Renton where he indecently assaulted a 12-year-old girl, placing his hands underneath her skirt and touching her thigh in exchange for money.

Prosecutor Claire Nicholls told Sheriff Hendry Smellie had no previous convictions.

Sheriff Hendry told Smellie: “I will need to obtain reports and will call for a criminal justice social work report. As of now you will be certified on the sex offenders’ register.

“As for the length of time you will be on the register will be determined when you come back for sentence.

“These are four serious charges the jury has convicted you of. You have no previous convictions, but all sentencing options remain open.”

Sentence was deferred until May 29. Bail was continued.