A CONVICTED sex offender who gave a 16-year-old girl a bottle of alcohol has been ordered to carry out unpaid work.

Thomas Hopkins had earlier saw the teenager on a bus and after seeing her again in a group outside the Co-op in Innerleithen went up to her and gave her a large bottle of Smirnoff Ice.

The 37-year-old, also previously known as McColl, was jailed for eight years in 2007 for raping a 12-year-old girl in the Borders.

He also received a 20-month prison sentence in 2021 for breaching his sexual offences prevention order by allowing three girls under 16 to visit his home in Kelso unsupervised and supplying a 16-year-old girl and boy alcohol.

Prosecutor Drew Long said Hopkins went into the Co-op store in Innerleithen at around 6.30pm earlier this year and purchased a bottle of Jack Daniels and Coke, and a 70cl bottle of the Smirnoff alcopop.

He explained: "There were a number of 16-year-olds outside the store not known to him and he approached one of those girls and gave them the large bottle of Smirnoff Ice saying, 'A broken heart can never be broken again'.

"He then said he saw her on the bus and said, 'You look a kind soul, you deserve this'."

The depute fiscal continued: "The young lady took the bottle of Smirnoff Ice and thanked him but had no recollection of seeing him before.

"The incident was brought to the attention of the police by a member of the public who was in the store and knew his background."

Hopkins pleaded guilty to the offence of giving a youngster alcohol under the Licensing Scotland Act 2005 aggravated by the fact he was a sex offender.

Defence lawyer Mat Patrick said: "He was significantly intoxicated when he did this.

"This is highlighted by the comments he made which do not appear to make much sense.

"He had bought the alcohol before he came into contact with these people.

"It was a spur of the moment thing to take the bottle out of his jacket and give it to the young lady."

Mr Patrick continued: "When he is intoxicated he makes poor decisions. As a result his last drink was six months ago.

"He rarely leaves his property."

Hopkins, who gave an address in Walkerburn and is on the sex offenders register for life, was ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work as an alternative to custody.