A terrified schoolgirl was chased by a cyclist and sexually assaulted in broad daylight at a popular beauty spot in Moray.
Benjamin Mearns, 40, grabbed the 14-year-old girl and exposed her breasts near the River Spey at Fochabers.
The disturbing attack came after the girl and her friends made their way home from an afternoon of swimming at the river.
Inverness Sheriff Court was told Mearns first approached two girls and three boys as they walked towards the Pinni area of the river on July 24 last year.
Fiscal depute David Barclay said Mearns offered the girls, both then aged 14, £20 to take their photographs in their bathing costumes.
“They repeatedly said no, were frightened and scared and ran away. He cycled out of view,” Mr Barclay said.
At around 6.30pm, when the girls had finished swimming and were heading home, Mearns reappeared on the scene, causing one of them to run away.
Mr Barclay said: “But she tripped and fell. As she was about to get up, his hands were on her shoulders, he pushed her back down and pulled up her bra, exposing her breasts.
“She was screaming and kicking out. Her friends heard her and two of the boys struck him to get him to leave.
“He got on his bike and headed towards the High Street.”
CCTV led to his capture
The prosecutor said that police were called and with the help of CCTV footage from local businesses, Mearns was traced and arrested a week later.
The court heard that Mearns’ late plea of guilty to sexual assault and breach of the peace was made on the day of the trial, “sparing the five child witnesses of reliving this”.
Defence solicitor Matthew O’Neill told Sheriff Eilidh Macdonald: “This was a moment of madness in a place which was very busy at the time on a warm summer’s evening.
“He has never come to the attention of the police before.”
Sentence was deferred until August 15 for a background report and assessments for a sex offender’s programme and a restriction of liberty order.
Mearns, of Stewart Place, Mosstodloch was placed on the Sex Offender’s Register and his bail was continued.