A FORMER foster parent was told he faces a long prison sentence after raping and sexually abusing children in Dunfermline.

Ronald Wilson, 65, now of Maybole in Ayrshire, was found guilty of "the most appalling crimes" at the High Court in Edinburgh today.

One of the girls was just five when he started abusing her.

Judge Michael O'Grady QC told Wilson: "Over a period of many years you have preyed on a succession of children who you have abused and used for your own obscene gratification."

He added that the paedophile had treated his victims "with something approaching contempt and depravity" and had shown "not a flicker of emotion" as they recounted the ordeals they suffered at his hands during his trial.

Wilson had denied a string of rape and sexual abuse charges and sat in the dock shaking his head as a jury unanimously convicted him of three rape offences and indecency and indecent assault crimes against three girls between 1975 and 1987.

His first victim was aged just five when she became the target of sex acts when he exposed himself and molested her at a house in Dunfermline.

A second girl was indecently assaulted by him at another house in the town and in a car on a number of occasions between June 1983 and February 1985, beginning when she was aged 15.

Wilson exposed himself and carried out sex acts on her and himself and made her perform oral sex. He also went on to rape the teenager in Dunfermline.

The sex offender also preyed on another little girl when she was aged just four and five at houses in Maybole.

The youngest victim said she had told a social worker at the time about what Wilson had done to her as a little girl.

The woman, now aged 35, told advocate depute Alan Cameron: "I remember her saying 'that can't happen'. It was swept under the carpet."

The woman, who did not know the other two victims, said she was later contacted by a detective.

She told the court: "As soon as he said he was a police officer I said 'I know what you are talking about'."

She said: "When you have been told since you were a child nothing happened you start to believe that until it comes to the surface."

Defence counsel Lorenzo Alonzi asked her if it was possible that something happened to her as a young girl, not with Wilson but with someone else.

She said: "No. It was Mr Wilson. I was a child. I wasn't an idiot."

Wilson claimed that nothing sexual had happened with the youngest victim but accepted he had had sex with the oldest girl.

He claimed the teenager had "stripped off" in front of him and began touching him. He said she undressed him before they had intercourse at his home with his wife in bed.

Wilson told the court: "I never thought much about it. I didn't think it was all that important.

"I was hoping it wouldn't happen again because I wasn't wanting it to happen again." He said they had sex three times.

Wilson was placed on the sex offenders' register and the Scottish Government will be notified of his conviction under protection of vulnerable groups legislation.