A lonely shepherd who repeatedly groped young women was spared jail in order that social workers can teach him manners.

Malcolm Michie was placed under supervision for three years, during which social workers will give him guidance on "social interaction" and "appropriate sexual behaviour" after a sheriff said he seemed to have no idea why what he had done was wrong.

Michie, 47, was found guilty in August of a series of sexual assaults committed as he collected feed from a farmers' merchants'.

The countryman, who lives alone in a rural cottage, has never been married or in a long-term relationship, was a regular visitor to the store involved, Carrs Billington Agriculture, at Drip Bridge, near Stirling.

Over a four-year period, the farmworker, described as "strange", let his hands wander over three different women, all in their early 20s, as they handed him heavy bags of sheep feed.

One of the women, now 25, said he groped her time and time again between March and September 2012.

She said she had probably helped him load 480 sacks - and he frequently "brushed" her privates with his fingertips as she handed over the 25-kilo bags.

On Wednesday (September 30) Stirling Sheriff Court was told that staff at the store had begun to dread the arrival of Michie's LandRover and trailer.

He was finally stopped after he grabbed a young blonde as she leaned over a block of sheep lick.

The 26-year-old woman, who cannot be identified, said in evidence that Michie had already asked for several different types of feed, which had been taken out to his LandRover.

Then he asked for the sheep lick, and followed as she went to get it.

She recalled: "As soon as I leant forward he was near enough on top of me."

A sales administrator heard her screaming: "Get your hands off me, what do you think you're doing? That's illegal."

Michie jumped in his LandRover and left.

Michie, of Farmestoun Cottage, Kilmahog, Perthshire, denied groping any women but was found guilty after summary trial.

The incidents took place over a period of nearly four years, between May 2010 and January 2014.

Prosecutor David Macdonald said: "He carried out these acts for sexual gratification."

Sheriff William Gilchirst placed Michie under social work supervision for three years, and ordered that his name should be kept on the sex offenders' register for the same period.

After reading a report prepared by social workers who interviewed Michie after his conviction, the sheriff told him: "What you did was serious, and you still don't seem to appreciate that.

"I think that's part of your problem - you do not know why it was wrong.

"You are assessed as being a low risk of re-offending. You are also a first offender.

"In the circumstances I think it would be appropriate to use an alternative to custody, and specifically to require you to undertake supervision, but for a long period.

"There's clearly work that needs to be done - with you - in relation to appropriate sexual behaviour and social interactions.

"If you don't comply, you'll be brought back to court and sentenced anew."

When he found Michie guilty, the sheriff said he was satisfied that Michie's acts were deliberate sexual assaults.