William Bannigan leaving Perth Sheriff Court

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A convicted sex offender chased and battered two women after he overheard them using the word "pervert" during a conversation in the street, a court has heard.

William Bannigan, 49, dragged one of the victims to the ground by her hair as he thought they were talking about him, even though they were referring to someone else.

The sex fiend appeared in front of Perth Sheriff Court today, the Daily Record reports.

Bannigan, of Rattray, Perthshire, admitted assaulting and injuring Denise O'Brien and Jody Jackson by punching them on the head and body at Scotmid on June 30 last year.

He was allowed to walk free after Sheriff Neil Bowie said he had "stayed out of trouble for a number of years".

Bannigan walked free from Perth Sheriff Court
(Image: assigned job)

Fiscal depute Andrew Harding told Perth Sheriff Court: "At 6.05pm witnesses were walking to the ATM outside Scotmid. The accused was on the other side of the road.

"They were talking about a person in the area and the term 'pervert' was used. The accused overheard and he stopped and stared at the witnesses.

"He did walk on a short while and then turned back and ran towards them. They ran into the shop and tried to get into the store room to get away. The accused followed them in.

"The accused subjected them to a flurry of punches, punching both in the face and body. He took hold of Miss Jackson's hair and pulled her to the ground before leaving."

Police were contacted by shop staff and Ms O'Brien, 39, was found to have sustained a cut lip, while 22-year-old Ms Jackson was left with a bump on her forehead.

Solicitor David Holmes, defending, said his client had taken offence when he overheard one of the women saying "there are perverts everywhere" at a volume he could clearly hear.

He said Bannigan had been convicted of a sexual offence involving a child in 2012 and despite an unsuccessful appeal, had never accepted that he should have been found guilty of the offence.

Bannigan's name had been added to the Sex Offenders’ Register.

"The consequence of that in a small town is that he has been subject to a significant level of provocation by way of things said against him," Mr Holmes told the court.

"He was walking along minding his own business. There were only three of them in the street and it was quite obvious they were using conversation he was able to hear, using the word pervert."

Sheriff Neil Bowie ordered former church volunteer Bannigan to carry out 300 hours unpaid work and said: "This was appalling behaviour against members of the public – however you feel you were being spoken about.

"The only question is whether to send you to custody or not. You appeared to have stayed out of trouble for a number of years, which for you is a saving grace."