A SEX predator who molested young girls and exposed himself to victims four decades ago was jailed yesterday (Thursday) after his crimes caught up with him.

Nigel Hartdegen will spend his 67th birthday today in prison after a judge refused to continue his bail following his conviction for three indecent behaviour offences.

Hartdegen, formerly of Hillend Drive, Hawick, targeted two girls for abuse when he carried out sex acts against them between 1973 and 1976.

He molested one child from the age of six at an address in his home town and lifted up her skirt and forced her to perform a sex act on him.

He abused the second girl from the age of 10 and exposed himself and made her carry out a sex act on him.

One woman told the High Court in Edinburgh that she was a little girl when she visited the house in Hawick which had a shed in the back garden.

The woman, now aged 51, said she was asked to take a cup of tea out to the shed and Hartdegen shut the door and exposed himself to her.

She told police: "I was wearing a dress and he pulled my dress up at the front with his hands. He said he wanted to see the colour of my knickers."

She said she got a fright and pulled away from and ran back into the house.

During a further visit she was given a cup of tea to take to him in the shed and he rubbed himself up against her.

The woman said she did not reveal the abuse that was perpetrated against her at the time as she was frightened and scared and was told no one would believe her.

She later told police: "He always warned me not to tell anybody as nobody would believe me. I actually thought nobody is going to believe me. I am just a little girl."

Pensioner Hartdegen had denied the offences but was found guilty of three charges of lewd, indecent libidinous practices and behaviour against the two girls.

He was acquitted of three further charges of indecent assault, indecent exposure and indecent behaviour.

Following the jury's verdict advocate depute David Nicolson revealed he has previous convictions for indecent exposure and sexual assault.

Defence counsel Tim Niven-Smith said a prison term was "inevitable" following the convictions, but added a background report would have to be prepared on Hartdegen before sentencing as he has never previously served a jail sentence.

He asked for his bail to be continued ahead of sentencing.

The judge, Lady Carmichael, told Hartdegen: "The position has changed significantly with the finding of the jury and you will be remanded in custody."

Hartdegen was placed on the sex offenders' register.

He is due to be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow later this month.