Brave victims speak up and help secure 13-year jail term for sex predator

A member of a once-feared crime clan has been jailed for 13 years for the horrific abuse of young girls.

James Winters was locked up at the High Court in Glasgow yesterday.

He preyed on six terrified victims and raped four of them.

They were too afraid to speak up for years, scared of Winters and his family’s reputation in Johnstone.

His relatives include a convicted killer and Winters himself lost an eye after being stabbed in a suspected gangland attack in the 1990s.

The victims bravely testified last month and this saw the 61-year-old convicted of a total of 13 offences.

One of the girls was aged around seven or eight when she was attacked.

The crimes spanned between 1979 and 1997 at various locations in Johnstone and Paisley as well as in cars.

Lady Haldane told Winters that one victim was so regularly abused she sadly believed what happened to be “normal”.

The judge added: “This was consistent, manipulative and predatory behaviour.

“Each victim was, in one way or another, vulnerable.

“It took enormous courage to give evidence against you.

“They had been afraid to tell anyone because you said no one would believe them or from fear of reprisals to them or their families.”

Winters, now of Paisley, showed no emotion after he was sentenced.

One woman shouted “love you” towards him as he was lead handcuffed to the cells.

In his evidence last month, Winters confessed to being no stranger to crime.

His QC Iain McSporran put to him: “We may have gained the impression that you were able, at the time, to have a lifestyle – including flash cars – due to criminality rather than hard work. That the position?”

Winters: “Yes.”

Mr McSporran also asked: “Were there times you or members of your family were feared?”

He replied: “Me and my brothers protected each other. We did not back down from anyone.”

Winters said the “turning point” was around 1993 when he was “jumped”.

He recalled: “I was stabbed in the eye and the blade broke in my eye.”

He denied the sexual abuse.

He repeatedly raped one of the victims from when she was around 16 into her 20s.

But, Winters said he was latterly in a relationship with her and that any sexual contact was “consensual”.

Winters was found guilty of five rape charges, five of acting in a lewd and libidinous manner, two indecent assaults and a further crime of assault with intent to rape.

He was put on the sex offenders’ list indefinitely.

Daily Record – Paisley