The victims of a north-east sex offender who preyed on women and children over more than four decades have been praised for their courage in speaking out as their abuser was handed a life sentence.
Douglas Ewen, 59, was made subject to an Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR), but had a punishment part of five years and six months imposed when he appeared in the dock for sentencing over a catalogue of offences.
He was warned he will only ever be freed if the authorities consider it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that he be kept in jail.
He inflicted sexual and physical harm on his victims at addresses in the city and at locations around the north-east, beginning when he was only 15 years of age.
Ewen, a prisoner of HMP Grampian, was found guilty of 18 offences, involving 10 victims, last year following a trial.
The offences included child rape, rape of women, sexual and physical assault and threatening behaviour.
On sentencing him at the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lord Kinclaven told him: “There is clearly no alternative to a custodial sentence. No other method of dealing with you is appropriate.”
Speaking after sentencing, Detective Chief Inspector Lorna Ferguson, who led the investigation, said: “Ewen committed a catalogue of abuse against young children and adults over more than 40 years in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
“He has devastated the lives of his victims who have shown great courage in coming forward and giving evidence at trial.
“This horrific abuse can now come to an end and it is my hope the fact that Ewen will now have to face the consequences of his actions will bring some form of closure for his victims and their families.
“Our hope is the sentence handed down sends out the clear message that abuse will not be tolerated.
“We would always encourage anyone who has been affected by sexual abuse, no matter how long ago it was, to come forward and tell us about it. Reports will always be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.”
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Meanwhile, a spokesman for the NSPCC said: “Sexual abuse is never the fault of the victim and the survivors of the horrific abuse carried out by Ewen have shown enormous bravery in speaking out about what happened to them. We hope they now receive the help and the support they need.
“NSPCC Scotland works in schools and in the community to prevent abuse and neglect and anyone worried about a child or about past abuse can contact our helpline to report concerns.”
Ewen’s crimes began in 1974 when he was a teenager as he physically assaulted a female.
In 1976 he started committing sex crimes after targeting a little girl he molested from the age of five before later raping her.
Ewen then began abusing a young girl in 1980 and later indecently assaulted her.
He then went on to attack and indecently assault a third underage girl during the 1980s.
He committed further assaults and rapes against a woman between 1989 and 2009.
Ewen raped a woman in December 2011 in an attack that began while the victim was asleep but continued after she woke up. He later subjected another woman to a similar sex attack.
He targeted another between January 2014 and December 2015 and would loiter outside her home and watch the windows and follow the victim.
In April 2016 he went into a woman’s home and repeatedly made sexual remarks to her.
He also followed a woman and molested her and took indecent photographs of her.
Defence counsel David Moggach said Ewen still maintained he was innocent of the charges a jury convicted him on.
Ewen was previously placed on the sex offenders’ register.