A PREACHER has been found guilty of sexually abusing a child at a Borders swimming pool.

John Smart, frmo Edinburgh, who also stood as a Tory candidate for the Holyrood elections in 2002, abused three children that he met through the church over a 15 year period.

The 48-year-old of Christian Terrace in the capital stood trial at Perth High Court last week.

Despite his pleas of innocent to the catalogue of charges the jury found him guilty.

Smart is now behind bars after being found guilty by the jury of abusing children as young as three years old and he will be sentenced next month.

Victims told how they had turned to drugs and crime in their teens after being groomed by Smart while he presented himself as a devout Christian.

Between 1987 and 2002 - just months before he stood to become an MSP - he systematically abused two boys and a girl at locations throughout Scotland.

He persuaded their parents to let him take the children on trips to play parks and leisure pools in Edinburgh, Peebles and Perth, where the abuse took place.

The mother of two of the boys told last Thursday's trial: "It didn't cross my mind that anything like that would be happening. If you thought something like that was going to happen you would not put them in that position.

"You trust someone and then it happens. They didn't want to tell me. They didn't want me to find out anything. I was never keen on talking to the boys about sexual stuff. He did what he did and I believe he did what he did." The jury found him guilty of five charges of sexually abusing children. Offences took place in Edinburgh, the Pentland Hills, Leith Waterworld, Peebles Swimming Pool and Perth Leisure Pool.

He will be sentenced by Lady Dorrian at the High Court in Glasgow on 18 January next year.