CONVICTED rapist and fraudster Christopher Harkins had the "intention of paying everything back" he defrauded from his victim, his lawyer has told a court.

Harkins, from Helensburgh, was handed a 12-year sentence at the High Court in Kilmarnock on Wednesday, July 10 for crimes of rape, sexual and physical abuse and fraud, committed between 2013 and 2019.

He targeted single women on dating sites and worked to gain their trust by portraying himself as a successful businessman, scamming them out of £214,000 in the process.

In addition to a lifetime non-harassment order banning him from any form of contact with his victims, 37-year-old Harkins was put on the sex offenders register for life.

During the sentencing hearing, Frances Connor KC told the court that Harkins had considered taking his life as a way out of the debts he'd run up from a gambling addiction.

Ms Connor said: "He felt he had done wrong. He had taken money and was unable to give it back. He owed money to people, and he had gambled that money. 

Christopher Harkins was jailed for 12 years at the High Court in Kilmarnock.Christopher Harkins was jailed for 12 years at the High Court in Kilmarnock. (Image: Google Street View)

"He does not minimise his wrongdoing. He admitted he was in self-destruct mode. He made the commitment to obtain money to fund his gambling addiction.

"It was always his intention to pay everything back.

"These were professional, intelligent woman who were attracted to Mr Harkins. They matched with him and pursued relationships with him."

Judge Alastair Watson referred to the victim impact statements provided to him before passing sentence, saying: "They describe in detailed terms the feelings of shame, humiliation, stress and exhaustion suffered as a consequence of your course of criminal conduct."

READ MORE: 'An appalling abuse of trust': Judge's full comments as he jails Helensburgh rapist and fraudster

Ms Connor said: "He acknowledges that, and that is why he pleads guilty to those [financial] charges.

"He did spend significant time at his partner's address to avoid media attention. He has been in that relationship for a number of years.

"He was trying to get help through her support. He is still a young man and there is some signs that he could make a better life for himself.

"Before being remanded into custody, he did attempt to try and turn his life around. He did get help for his gambling addiction."

After being sentenced, Harkins muttered "it's a disgrace" as he was led to the cells in handcuffs.

Christopher Harkins defrauded nine victims out of more than £214,000Christopher Harkins defrauded nine victims out of more than £214,000 (Image: Police Scotland)

'Manipulative and violent behaviour'

Katrina Parkes, Scotland’s procurator fiscal for High Court sexual offences, said:   “Christopher Harkins clearly poses an extreme danger to women through his calculating, manipulative and violent behaviour.  

“His many victims have shown immense bravery in coming forward and reporting him to the authorities. 

“This conviction will hopefully bring some comfort to the women he targeted while protecting others from his deplorable schemes and depraved actions.    

“This was a complex case and I give thanks to the prosecution team for their efforts in securing this conviction.  

“We want to encourage all those who believe they have been a victim of similar offending to come forward and report it.  

“You will be listened to and we will use all the tools available to us to pursue justice.”