A former SNP councillor who sexually assaulted a party colleague in the back of a taxi and left a young waitress with bruised buttocks has escaped a jail sentence.
Lewis Ritchie, 38, drunkenly pounced on the woman in the back of a cab following an SNP function in Edinburgh city centre in 2016.
Ritchie - who quit the SNP after being charged with the sex attacks - also slapped the bottom of the waitress leaving her bruised while she worked in the capital cafe he used to own.
The shamed local politician also drunkenly attempted to get into bed with another nationalist colleague while dressed just in his underwear following an SNP conference in Glasgow in 2017.
Ritchie denied the allegations but was found guilty of three sexual assault charges and one charge of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner following a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in August.
The father of one returned to the dock for sentencing on Thursday where defence advocate David Nicolson said his “educated and intelligent” client had been deemed as “ a low risk of sexual reoffending”.
Mr Nicolson also said Ritchie has had “a troubled past with alcohol” but is currently “attending a course to deal with that”.
Sheriff Fiona Tait spared the former nationalist councillor custody and instead imposed a community payback order.
Ritchie was placed on the Sex Offenders Register and on a supervision order for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community.
Previously the court heard evidence from all three women who described Ritchie’s behaviour towards them on occasions between April 2016 and October 2019.
The first victim told the trial she had shared a taxi home with Ritchie after both had attended an SNP function at the party’s club rooms in Edinburgh city centre in April 2016. The woman said Ritchie was “extremely drunk” and was “slurring his words” and when it came for him to get out of the vehicle he had asked her for a kiss.
The woman said she was “surprised” by the request and in response had given him “a kiss on the cheek”. She said Ritchie, of the capital’s Leith, told her ‘no I want a proper kiss’ and then forced his tongue into the her mouth.
The woman told the court it was “a deeply unpleasant incident” and she had immediately asked him to leave the cab.
The second victim said she had been at the SNP conference in Glasgow in October 2017 when Ritchie asked to spend the night at the flat where she was staying.
She told the trial she was woken around 2am with a drunken half-naked Ritchie attempting to get into bed with her and saying ‘It’s OK we’ll just have a cuddle”. The woman said she felt “quite vulnerable” as she was only wearing a t-shirt and had pushed him away before he left the bedroom.
The third woman said she was employed by Ritchie as a waitress in the It’s All Good Cafe where he would regularly touch her bottom on purpose.
She said she felt “uncomfortable” by the attention and on one occasion Ritchie left her with a bruised buttock after slapping her.
The woman added she “felt sexualised” by the encounters and had resigned from her job in October 2019 before to going to the police two weeks later.
Ritchie resigned from the Scottish National Party after the allegations emerged in 2018 and stood as an independent councillor for the Leith area in Edinburgh for a short time.