A TEENAGER who physically and sexual assaulted a nine-year-old boy in Inverkeithing has been detained for three years.

The 16-year-old boy - who cannot be named for legal reasons - had lured his victim into a game of hide and seek before attacking him.

He was sent to a Young Offenders Institution following a hearing at Edinburgh High Court yesterday (Thursday).

Passing sentence, Lord Clark told him: “You pleaded guilty to a violent physical and sexual assault.

“You placed his life in potential danger.

“The serious nature of the assault in this case on a nine-year-old child and the harm that was caused to him has led me to conclude that only a custodial sentence is appropriate.

“I shall impose a sentence of three years in a Young Offenders Institution.”

The judge had earlier heard how the youth had taken the child to a field in Inverkeithing after chatting to him at a nearby skatepark.

Once in the field, the accused shoved the boy to the ground and choked him, causing his victim to lose consciousness.

Once he came to, the nine-year-old discovered his clothes had been pulled down which prompted him to “run for his life” and escape.

His dad immediately raced to the scene after hearing what had happened to comfort his distressed and hurt son.

At the High Court in Glasgow earlier this year, the attacker pleaded guilty to physically and sexually assaulting the boy to his injury and danger of life in Inverkeithing on March 26, 2022.

Sentence had been deferred until yesterday when the accused appeared from custody and heard his lawyer Mark Stewart KC urge Lord Clark to not send him to prison.

He argued that his client’s young age meant that he lacked emotional and intellectual maturity and to keep in line with sentencing guidelines for young people, Lord Clark should impose a community payback order.

Speaking about custody, Mr Stewart said: “It would have a negative impact on the accused. It would leave him open to peer group influence which would not be positive.

“Some people might think a community payback order is a soft option. But should he fail to co-operate with that order, he would be brought back to court and at that a point a custodial disposal would be a live issue."

He said that such an order would provide the youth with the help needed to tackle his offending behaviour.

Mr Stewart added: “He lacks maturity. He lacks understanding. There are cognitive impairments.”

However, Lord Clark said the circumstances of the offence meant that he needed to be sent to a YOI.

At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Lindsey Dalziel said the victim was unknown to the attacker. They didn’t come into contact with each other until shortly before the crime.

The victim had been at the park that morning with a friend before they came into contact with the youth.

The then 15 year-old suggested a game of hide and seek and that him and the victim would "form a team".

He led the boy down a path towards a field. They sat down in long grass before the attacker started asking inappropriate questions.

Miss Dalziel said: "He went to ask the boy to 'pinkie promise' not to tell anyone what he was about to do.”

The attacker pushed the boy to the ground and grabbed him by the throat.

Miss Dalziel added: "Fearing for his life, the boy tried to scream.

"The teenager placed his hand over his mouth and nose, restricting his breathing."

The boy then lost consciousness.

The court heard he could not remember what then happened, but was next aware of his lower clothes being pulled down.

The attacker told him his "temper suddenly rises and he gets angry".

He again made the boy "pinkie promise" to keep quiet.

The victim ran away so fast that his shoes fell off.

He told his friend what happened. She described him as "running for his life".

A man stopped to help the children and the victim's dad was contacted.

The advocate depute said: "He went to the area and found his son extremely upset.

"He could see bruising forming around his eyes, scratches on his face and reddening around his neck."

Medics later concluded there had been "significant attempts" at strangling the boy.

The attacker was initially found at a local railway station. He was detained by police and brought to court.

At court yesterday, Mr Stewart said that his client didn’t speak to a court appointed social worker who was commissioned to write a report about his background.

But he added that the boy had sent a handwritten letter to Lord Clark admitting his guilt.

Despite Mr Stewart's arguments, Lord Clark told the boy he’d be going to custody.

He was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for five years.