A KILWINNING schoolteacher has avoided jail after being found guilty of sexually assaulting pupils during a lesson.

Cameron MacKenzie was found guilty of two charges of sexual assault against two first year pupils at a Three Towns school between February and March last year.

The jury heard from eight children who said they saw trainee teacher MacKenzie act inappropriately with female pupils during lessons.

He returned to Kilmarnock Sheriff Court yesterday (Tuesday) to be sentenced and was slapped with a Community Payback Order with three years supervision and placed on the Sex offender’s Register for the same duration. He will also have to complete the Moving Forward Making Changes programme.

During the four-day trial last month one girl broke down in tears when she told the court she had been “left damaged” by MacKenzie’s actions which occurred when she was just 12-years-old.

The girl, now 14, told the jury that on one occasion MacKenzie had walked up to the side of her desk and put his hand in front of her face, saying “His hand didn’t touch my face, but it was uncomfortably close. I didn’t like it. It made me uncomfortable.”

The child also told the court MacKenzie’s lips had ‘grazed her ear’ when he bent down to whisper to her during a different lesson.

Under cross-examination the child became upset again and sobbed as MacKenzie’s defence lawyer, Dale Hughes, called her a liar.

Mr Hughes told the girl: “All these incidents that you have said he touched you or grazed your ear, they are not true, you just don’t like Mr MacKenzie.”

Sobbing, the girl replied: “That’s not true, I would not go out my way to ruin someone’s life.

“I’m not making it up, this has damaged me.”

After composing herself, Sheriff Shirley Foran asked the girl to explain what she meant and she added: “This has changed me as a person because of the stress I’ve been put through.

“It took quite a lot for me to speak about it because I’m scared and I don’t want to be accused of lying.”

The court heard MacKenzie had groped the leg of one 13-year-old girl and told her that her “body was more developed than other girls her age” during his probationary year.

MacKenzie also warned her she would get stomach cramps and “be more moody” while she had her period and said he knew this because he had “been through it with his own daughter”.

The jury heard from a child who said he had been “lenient” towards girls and claimed “girls got more privileges than boys” in his classroom.

However, he denied the charges and said that all eight children had conspired against him because they “took slight umbrage to being disciplined”.

However the jury did not agree with him and found MacKenzie guilty of two charges of sexual assault.

The jury returned a verdict of not proven on a third charge.