A man left a 13-year-old girl “frozen” with fear after he started following her in the street then asked her to take him to a graveyard, a court has heard.
David Ettles had been seen talking to other youngsters in Inverurie before he targeted the young girl as she made her way along Blackhall Road.
Despite the schoolgirl’s best efforts to get away, the 41-year-old continued to tail the increasingly frightened child before striking up conversation about death.
Ettles – who pleaded guilty at Aberdeen Sheriff Court – was less keen to speak to the Press and Journal’s reporter after the case and instead sprinted out of the court building and up Broad Street.
Fiscal depute Sean Ambrose said Ettles was seen by police sitting on a bench in front of Inverurie Town Hall at 5.30pm on July 29 but they had no reason to engage at that point.
Later that evening the schoolgirl met up with her friend in the town.
Mr Ambrose said: “Another witness was walking in the area when they became aware of the accused standing speaking to a group of male and female youths who all appeared to be under 16 years of age.
‘You are all very pretty’
“As she passed, she noted that the teenagers appeared uncomfortable with the male speaking to them.
“At 8.30pm, the complainer and her friend attended outside Greens of Inverurie and became aware of the accused standing with a group of youths nearby.
“The accused appeared to notice the witness and friend and approached them and was heard to say ‘you are all very pretty’.
“This caused them to feel anxious and they ignored him.”
Ettles was then seen buying alcohol in the shop before heading off along Blackhall Road.
The group of youths then separated and the complainer walked up Blackhall Road around 9.10pm.
Two witnesses then saw Ettles shouting “oi” towards her three times and crossing the road towards her.
Mr Ambrose said: “The complainer ignored him and continued walking along the pavement.
Mum searched for Ettles following incident
“She was aware of the accused getting closer so crossed to the other side.
“She glanced back and saw the accused following her and crossing the road behind her.
“She crossed back and the accused again matched her, drawing closer as he crossed.”
Ettles caught up with her at the junction with Middlemuir Road and the child stood “frozen”.
Mr Ambrose said: “The accused spoke about death and asked her where the nearest graveyard was and if she could take him there.”
Witnesses noticed the girl looked distressed and left their property to beckon her over, “pretending to be her friend to get her away from the accused”.
The girl stood with the witnesses until Ettles left, then ran home to tell her mum what had happened.
‘Alcohol would appear to be an issue here’
Mr Ambrose said: “The mother of the complainer made a search for the accused in her car in the area and at one point the complainer identified the accused, who they found sitting on a bench and took a photo of him.”
The matter was then reported to police.
Ettles, of Balhagardy Court, Inverurie, pled guilty to a charge of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner.
Defence agent Neil McRobert said: “Alcohol would appear to be an issue here, certainly it was an issue on the day of the offence.”
Sheriff Lesley Johnston told Ettles: “You have no recollection of the offence such was the level of your intoxication on the day in question.
“You acknowledge that’s a problem you need to address.”
As an alternative to custody, she ordered Ettles to be supervised for 18 months and carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.
Following the conclusion of the hearing, Ettles donned a hoodie emblazoned with the words “duck and cover” and “ready for anything”, and spent an extended period of time wandering the corridors of the court building and checking to see if a photographer was outside.
Eventually, he sprinted towards the exit and ran along Union Street and up Broad Street while hiding behind a mask and hat.
Asked if he had any comment to make, he remained silent.
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