Transgender Biker Who Hid In Park Bushes To Take Pictures Of Children Cleared 

  • By Editorial Team
  • 09 May, 2016

"Photographing other people's children without consent is certainly best avoided." Sheriff Susan Sinclair

A transgender biker who hid in bushes to photograph children in a park on Easter Sunday without their parents' permission was cleared of all wrongdoing today.

Towering Louise Balmforth pictured above - who was born a man - had been charged with causing a breach of the peace by photographing the minors in Paisley's Barshaw Park last year.

She denied she'd committed a breach of the peace by "approaching children, repeatedly taking photographs of them without consent and to the fear and alarm of persons present" and went on trial over her antics at Paisley Sheriff Court.

The court heard she was in the park on Sunday, April 5, 2015, taking pictures of primary school children, who can't be named for legal reasons, playing in the park.

Balmforth ducked behind bushes and lay between mounds in the grass to photograph the youngsters, who were playing at a play park within the park, which is in the town's Glasgow Road.

Three parents took the stand to give evidence against her.

One, a Community Nurse, told the court she was scared and alarmed by Balmforth's conduct, fearing the photographs would end up "on a paedophile site."

The others said they were alarmed by Balmforth's conduct but the court heard Balmforth agreed to delete photographs containing one particular child when the child's parent asked her to.

Balmforth's solicitor, Peter Galletly, made a no case to answer submission, saying although she had taken pictures of children without getting consent from their parents, there was not enough evidence to convict her of causing a breach of the peace.

He said that, although the parents of the children had been left scared and alarmed, someone could only be guilty of a breach of the peace if there was also a serious threat of a disturbance being caused to the community at large.
And, on the strength of Galletly's argument, Sheriff Susan Sinclair acquitted Balmforth.

As she upheld his no case to answer submission and found Balmforth not guilty, she said: "The conduct has to be serious enough to cause fear and alarm to ordinary people and threaten a disturbance to the community.

"One of the witnesses saw the accused taking pictures and didn't want any pictures of her child on the accused's camera.

"She spoke to the accused who agreed to remove the child's photographs.

"She was annoyed and upset and had a great fear the photographs would end up on an unsavoury internet site.

"Taking these photographs caused fear and alarm to one witness and at least alarm to another two.

"There also has to be a reasonable apprehension of disturbance to the public present and proof of that is needed for proof of a crime having been committed.

"I'm not satisfied of that in these particular circumstances, in this particular case.

"I don't think the conduct was serious enough to threaten a public disturbance.

"This is a very narrow case.

"I uphold the submission of no case to answer."

She also warned Balmforth that she should think twice about photographing children without consent in future.

She said: "Photographing other people's children without consent is certainly best avoided."

Balmforth, of Paisley, declined to comment on the case as she left court.

Her camera and other photography equipment was seized by police officers investigating the case and held by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Servie to be used as productions in her trial, which began last year.

The equipment was later returned to her after she said she needed it to run her business - - which she describes on her website as a range of toys which "have been created by a cat lover for cats."


By Editorial Team 06 Mar, 2017
Three suspects were released on bail on Friday after being charged over a £2million drug bust.

Eric Reid, Nicholas Conway and Harry Ingle were arrested on Wednesday following a raid on an industrial unit in Paisley, Renfrewshire.

The trio were kept in custody for two nights at Greenock police office over claims they made and hoarded Etizolam, before appearing handcuffed in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court on Friday.

The men all appeared separately, in private, before Sheriff David Pender, to face two charges under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.

Reid, 43, of Johnstone, Renfrewshire, was represented by defence solicitor David Kinloch during his behind-closed-doors hearing, where he was released on bail with the condition that he signs in at a police station every day.

Conway, 43, of Brixton, London, was represented by lawyer Neil McPherson during his appearance in the dock, while defence solicitor Kirsty McGeehan appeared for Ingle, 38, of Paisley, Renfrewshire.

Both Conway and Ingle were released on bail with the condition that they sign in at their local police station every second day.
By Editorial Team 21 Oct, 2016
A Scot has been cleared of racial abuse - by hanging a Welsh flag that said "fuck the English" in his window just days before the England v Wales Euro 2016 clash.

Daniel Hamilton, 44 pictured above , denied he behaved in a threatening or abusive way, aggravated by racial prejudice, at his flat in Paisley, Renfrewshire,.

Prosecutors claimed he had broken the law by hanging a flag with "an offensive remark" on June 14 and 15 this year.

England beat Wales 2-1 in the competition on June 16, when goals from Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge canceled out Gareth Bale's opener.

Hamilton went on trial at Paisley Sheriff Court today and was found not guilty after a no case to answer submission by his solicitor, Eamonn McGeehan.

Mr McGeehan successfully argued there was no evidence to prove Hamilton had been the one responsible for hanging the flag in the window of his home.

Speaking after he was cleared, Hamilton admitted he hung the flag and slammed the member of the public who phoned the police to report him.
By Editorial Team 10 Oct, 2016
A married carer accused of plying a teenage boy half her age with drink and drugs bedded the youngster while he was in her care - then warned him: "Don't tell anyone."

Harriet Jackson, 34 pictured above , was paid by a charity to look after the boy and help him adjust to life on his own once he left the care system.

But she is now on the Sex Offenders' Register for preying on the youngster, who was just 16 at the time, and flirting with him - before forcing him in to bed.

Their relationship became so heated that Jackson, who has a teenage daughter, was accused of making him engage in sexual role play, use sex toys and have anal sex with her.

But she struck a deal with prosecutors which saw those claims deleted from the charge in exchange for her guilty plea to a reduced libel.

A second charge that she endangered the teen by culpably or recklessly supplying him with alcohol, cannabis, speed, and "other controlled drugs" was dropped when her not guilty plea was accepted.

Jackson was working for Catch Scotland at the time she preyed on the boy and forced him in to bed.

But after they had sex their relationship dwindled and they drifted apart - with her last overnight stay at his being on a day lovers around the world go out of their way to spend time with each other - Valentine's Day.

The details emerged today when Jackson, of Paisley, Renfrewshire, appeared at the town's sheriff court to admit her guilt over her forbidden relationship with the youngster.

She pleaded guilty to breaking Section 42 of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 by engaging in sexual activity with someone who was under the age of 18 while in a position of trust towards them.

The agreed plea was entered just minutes before she was due to go on trial over her antics before a jury.

Procurator Fiscal Depute Scot Dignan told the court that youngster received round-the-clock care and that Jackson started off as his daytime carer.

But she ended up giving him overnight care and staying with him at a flat that he had in Paisley - before their relationship turned physical.

Dignan, prosecuting, explained: "The complainer was aged 16 and was in the care of the local authority, receiving 24-hour care at that time. "The accused started as a carer with Catch Scotland in April 2014."

In October 2014 she became involved professionally with the boy, acting as his daytime carer, before providing overnight support at the flat he had in Paisley.

Jackson had her own room at the flat so she could stay there whilst being employed to look after him.

She was accused of sleeping with him repeatedly over a three-week period between January 24, 2015, and February 15 that year.

But her agreed plea deal with prosecutors saw their trysts reduced to happening on just one occasion - on February 7, 2015.

Dignan explained: "Their relationship was professional to begin with but they began to flirt.

"The relationship developed, the accused kissed the complainer and they had sex in the complainer's bed.

"Their relationship became strained and the last overnight stay was on February 14, 2015."

The boy later confessed to another carer that he'd had sex with Jackson - and the police were contacted.

The teen told officers what he and Jackson had got up to and explained: "She was like that, 'don't tell anyone' - ah knew masel' whit she wis daein wis wrong."
By Editorial Team 07 Oct, 2016
A Renfrewshire pensioner who could pass for a character in hit Scottish comedy Still Game has escaped jail - for driving to get cigarettes after spending the day drinking.

William Black pictured above , likes nothing better than spending the day in the pub with his pals, just like the show's 70-somethings Jack Jarvis, Victor McDade, Winston Ingram and Tam Mullen.

But Black - who sports a moustache like Jack and Victor and hobbles slowly like one-legged Winston - made a big mistake after a drinking session last month.

The 77-year-old spent the afternoon of August 19 this year sinking drinks in a pub in Renfrew after taking the bus there, just like Jack, Victor and Co regularly do after boarding the Dial-a-bus and heading to The Clansman - the pub in the show's fictional Glasgow scheme of Craiglang.

Black returned home after having a skinful, realised he didn't have any cigarettes for the rest of the night and deciding to drive to a shop to get them.

And, just like the characters from Still Game - which returned tonight with the first new episode in nine years - he ended up in a scrape.

Black hit another car as he drove on his errand, resulting in the police coming to his door.

When officers arrived at his home in Renfrew's Lossie Crescent, he admitted he'd been drinking and failed a breath test.

The details emerged earlier this month when he appeared in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court charged with drink-driving on August 19 this year.

He pleaded guilty to breaking Section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 by driving his Renault Clio three-door hatchback while having 69microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath, when the limit is just 22mcg.

Procurator Fiscal Depute Joanne Gilmour, prosecuting, explained: "At around 9.30pm the accused's vehicle was involved in a collision with another vehicle.

"As a consequence police were called and when they arrived at the home address of the accused he identified himself and advised he was the owner of the vehicle, then indicated he was the driver at the relevant time.

"He also said he'd been drinking alcohol and thereafter provided a roadside breath test, which he failed."

He was taken to Helen Street police office, in Glasgow's Govan area, where he provided two more breath specimens.

He made no reply when cautioned and charged and was released on an undertaking to appear at court, admitting his guilt when he appeared in the dock this week.

Defence solicitor Kevin Brady painted a picture which sounded like a plot from a Still Game episode.

He explained: "I understand there was a very minor collision.

"He was very honest and very forthcoming - he advised the police he'd had a drink.

"He has a little routine - he gets the bus from where he lives, in to Renfrew,

"He has a few drinks with friends and returns on the bus.

"He went back out to get cigarettes and made the unfortunate decision to take the vehicle and drive to the shop."

The lawyer said that Black had worked for Rolls Royce before retiring and was now the full-time carer for his wife, who "suffers very badly" from dementia.

He added: "The inevitable consequence of his guilty plea will have a significant effect on his life and what he can do with his wife.
By Editorial Team 04 Oct, 2016
A retired police sergeant was today cleared of attacking a prisoner in a cell - then blasted his former colleagues for giving evidence against him.

Ian Clarke pictured above , who was an officer for 27 years, was accused of assaulting Michael Higgins within a cell at Paisley's Mill Street police office.

One of Clarke's old work mates said she saw him kicking Higgins "with enough force to open a locked door."

Clarke, 50, admitted striking Higgins, 48, in the chest with his foot whilst on duty.

But he denied assaulting him by kicking him with such force that he caused him to hit a wall and fall on to a bed.

He claimed he pushed Higgins over with his foot to save his life - as he believed the prisoner was trying to strangle himself to death.

And, speaking after he was found not guilty of assault, he said he was "shocked" and "gutted" at other officers.

Clarke was charged following his interaction with Higgins at the Renfrewshire police station on April 18, 2014.
By Editorial Team 03 Oct, 2016
A twisted truck driver was today warned he faces jail after being convicted of repeatedly sexually assaulting a primary school girl in the back of his cab during an eight-year reign of abuse.

Father-of-two Leslie Gilmour pictured above , repeatedly interfered with the youngster and her older sister between 1988 and 1996 - when they were aged between seven and 11.

The 69-year-old denied abusing the girls - daughters of his wife's friend - and forced them to relive the abuse they'd suffered at his hands by giving evidence against him.

His Paisley Sheriff Court trial heard he began abusing the younger of the girls - who is now 32 - in 1991, when she was just seven, at his home in Johnstone, Renfrewshire.

Brazen Gilmour, who has since retired from his job as an HGV driver for a carpet company, also abused her in the back of his truck after taking her on an overnight trip to England.

He began abusing her older sister in 1988, when she was aged eight.

His trial heard that he would regularly walk around his home with just a towel on while the girls were in - and expose himself to them "over and over and over again - 95% of the time."

Procurator Fiscal Depute Alan Parfery said Gilmour's actions were "a terrible breach of trust" which had conspired to "steal the innocence" of his victims.

And the prosecutor also said Gilmour repeatedly made the younger girl "go in to the back of a dark lorry" - whilst she accompanied him on trips to England - and forced her to perform sex acts on him.

Gilmour used his solicitors to try and have his case deserted, claiming his health difficulties and "memory problems" meant he was unfit to go on trial.

But his bid failed and he went on trial over the abuse this week.
By Editorial Team 29 Sep, 2016
A woman today admitted shaking a seven-month-old baby so severely she left him disabled.

Nikki Irvine pictured above , is now facing up to five years behind bars for shaking the child - who can't be named for legal reasons - at a property in Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, in 2013.

Irvine admitted her guilt when she appeared in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court today over the incident.

She had originally been charged with assaulting the youngster at the house in the village's Mimosa Road on November 11, 2013.

But she struck a deal with prosecutors which saw her plead guilty to an amended charge of causing his injuries by culpable and reckless conduct.

She admitted she did "culpably and recklessly shake [him] and did cause severe injury and permanent impairment."

The 29-year-old, who walks with the aid of two crutches, showed no emotion in the dock as she pleaded guilty to leaving the baby disabled.

Irvine, of Johnstone, Renfrewshire, was represented by Advocate Paul Nelson during the short hearing, before Sheriff Colin Pettigrew.
By Editorial Team 23 Sep, 2016
A dangerous sex offender was jailed yesterday for breaching a strict court order banning him from having any contact with women - by begging them for money.

Robert Dills, 58, was placed on an Interim Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) in April this year.

The order - imposed after Dills was jailed for a year and placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for 10 years for masturbating in public - banned him from leaving his home at night or having any contact with lone females.

But just days it was imposed, Dills hounded young women at the Lonend Filling Station in Paisley, Renfrewshire, begging them for money.

Dills, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease and is confined to a wheelchair, slid up to the women in his motorised chair, stared at them and begged for money.

Dills breached the interim SOPO on May 11, 2016 - 15 days after he signed documents to say he understood the restrictions the SOPO placed upon his freedom.
By Editorial Team 20 Sep, 2016
The sister of ex-First Minister Jack McConnell was spared jail today for stealing thousands of pounds from a disabled pensioner - after he refused to bail her out.

Anne McConnell stole £9,000 from the bank account of 80-year-old severe arthritis sufferer Janet Noteman while working as her carer on the Isle of Arran.

McConnell, the little sister of Labour peer Jack, got hold of Noteman's bank card and PIN number and cleaned out her savings account between February and August 2015.

She then told police probing her theft that she stole it "because of the menopause" and needed it to pay her mortgage and hoped Jack would help her pay it back.

She could have been jailed for 12 months for the offence when she returned to the dock at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court today to be sentenced.

But she was given a Community Payback Order (CPO) - requiring her to carry out unpaid work and pay compensation to the bank, who had earlier reimbursed her victim.
By Editorial Team 15 Sep, 2016
A nursery worker who drew a moustache on a sleeping toddler's face with a permanent marker then took a photograph of him was branded "a danger to children" today - then spared jail for abusing him and two other one-year-old children in her care.

Callous Laura Houston, 25 pictured above, also pulled the little boy's legs away from him, causing him to fall and hit his face off the floor, leaving him in tears.

She also tripped a little girl up and attacked a third toddler by slapping him across the chest to get him to be quiet - causing him to freeze with fear at being hit.

She denied assaulting the three one-year-olds, who can't be named for legal reasons, claiming another person had drawn on the boy's face.

Her victims were so young they could not speak - and could not tell their parents or the police what had happened.
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