Missing Leigh Park veteran revealed as convicted rapist who vanished before child sex abuse trial

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A VETERAN whose disappearance sparked a public search was due to appear in court for child sex offences and is a convicted rapist, The News can reveal.

Jurors convicted Robert Ballantyne, 38, of two historic child sexual abuse charges and now awaits sentencing.

Robert Ballantyne who went missing from his Leigh Park home ahead

Robert Ballantyne who went missing from his Leigh Park home ahead

Back in April members of the public and his family searched Havant Thicket and Stansted Park, aided by a police helicopter and a drone, after he vanished from his family home in Billy Copse, Leigh Park.

Ballantyne, who had told his family he was ‘going out to walk the dogs’ on April 14 at 7.30am, handed himself in to police a day later.

The former Royal Highland Fusiliers Kosovo War veteran had been due to appear on April 16 at Dumbarton Sheriff Court in Scotland to face the charges.

READ MORE: Huge search for missing Leigh Park army veteran intensifies

Now he has been convicted of two charges of lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour – a sex offence in Scotland.

He denied the child abuse crimes, which took place between 2002 and 2011.

It comes after he was jailed for six-years for a knife-point rape at the High Court in Glasgow in February 2004. He had denied the charge.

In a statement issued after the latest verdict, Detective Inspector Steve Martin, from Clydebank Police Office, said: ‘Police Scotland investigates all reports of child sexual abuse, wherever or whenever they occurred.

READ MORE: How volunteers came together to find Robert Ballantyne 

‘Abuse of this nature can have a lasting impact and I hope that the conviction (on Wednesday) brings some comfort and closure to the victims involved, and their families.

‘Our first priority in any investigation but especially in complex enquiries of non-recent abuse is the victim.

‘Anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse should feel confident in reporting to the matter to the Police either directly or through one of our partners.

‘The abuse of children is unacceptable no matter when it occurs and Police Scotland are committed to ensuring that any perpetrators of such child abuse are held to account for their actions.’

Ballantyne, who will be sentenced on July 18, served in Kosovo where he earned a commendation for finding seven anti-personnel mines hidden in a lorry.