Missing Paedophile in Prison for Three Years
09:00 - 04 March 2002
The mystery over why a convicted paedophile from Alloa suddenly vanished from a remote village where he had settled controversially has been solved.
Jehovah's Witness Thomas Maxwell is in jail after being found guilty of a further string of sexual attacks and cruelty to girls - some as young as seven.
Some of the latest offences he was jailed for date back more than 30 years.
Maxwell, 61, moved to Leverburgh in the south of Harris just before his conviction in June, 2000, for sex offences against a 12-year-old girl.
In June, 2000, Maxwell was living in Woodlea Park , Sauchie, near Alloa, when he was found guilty at Alloa Sheriff Court on two counts of behaving with shameless indecency.
Islanders reacted angrily when he was sentenced to three years probation and 240 hours community service at Alloa Sheriff Court .
Sheriff William Reid said his decision not to impose a prison sentence was influenced by Maxwell's voluntary exile "to a remote part of the Western Isles".
In recent weeks, villagers in Leverburgh had been baffled over why Maxwell had not been seen since the end of January.
One said: "It was obvious Maxwell was no longer around. He was always wandering about the village and the beaches although most people would generally steer clear of him.
"But he had won over a few gullible people. Some would say they found him nice and pleasant and they kept saying that they could not fault his behaviour.
"These few people said he should not be judged even although they knew full well he had been convicted of serious child sex offences. That attitude is very worrying. It may have made Maxwell seem welcome."
Now papers released from Edinburgh Sheriff Court show that Maxwell, of 2 Burnside Cottages, Obbe Road, in Leverburgh, was put on trial on January 24 and was convicted on January 28.
He is now serving a three-year jail sentence after being found guilty on a charge that at various times between August, 1970, and November, 1974, at an Edinburgh address he fondled a girl who was just eight when the abuse began.
The lewd, indecent and libidinous conduct continued until she was 13, according to the charge.
Maxwell was also found guilty of attempting sex with the same girl on an occasion between October, 1972, and June, 1975, at either the same address or an address in Linlithgow.
Finally, Maxwell was found guilty of cruelty between March, 1971, and March, 1973, to another girl who was just seven or eight at the time.
The court heard that she suffered injuries when Maxwell poured boiling water between her legs as she sat in a basin and when he also held a bottle of steam against her skin.