A WHITECROOK teenager convicted of a sex attack on a 12 year-old girl has been locked up for 18 months. Michael McBride pounced on the youngster in John Knox Street, Clydebank, in April last year after he and his victim had been drinking alcohol and smoking cannabis.

The 16 year-old denied the charges against him but he was found guilty of assaulting the girl with intent to rape after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow in May.

It emerged during the trial before judge Lord Kinclaven that McBride, who was 15 at the time of the offence on April 7 last year, had spent the afternoon drinking and smoking with the 12-year-old and two teenage friends, a boy and girl, in and around the Whitecrook Park area.

Later that day a woman who had been looking out her flat window on adjacent John Knox Street called the police after seeing a boy wearing a grey track suit lying on top of a girl.

Although McBride, of North Elgin Street, did not dispute he was the boy in question he denied all the allegations against him and claimed he had simply been trying to help the girl who had become sick after drinking alcohol.

Giving evidence on the fourth day of the trial, McBride insisted he was innocent and told the court the female witness who alerted police "must have been mistaken".

He also accused his friends of telling lies in an effort to keep themselves and the 12 year-old out of trouble.

A jury of 13 men and one woman found McBride not guilty of rape but convicted him of the lesser charge by a majority verdict.

Last week when McBride was back in the dock to hear his fate, his lawyer Lorraine Glancy urged the judge to hand her client an alternative to custody.

Miss Glancy said the teenager was considered a "low risk" of further sexual offending and had been assessed as someone who was suitable for a community-based disposal.

However, Lord Kinclaven told McBride he had been convicted of a "serious" offence and that there was no option but to lock him up.

He added: "The fact remains you have been convicted of a sexual assault against a young child. I am satisfied that there is no alternative to a custodial sentence." The judge added factors such as McBride's age meant he could show "greater leniency" in deciding how long McBride will spend behind bars.