Former King’s Horseman raped teenage girls at riding school

James Armour, also known as Chris, was jailed for 10 years - Tim Bugler/The Central Scotland News Agency
James Armour, also known as Chris, was jailed for 10 years - Tim Bugler/The Central Scotland News Agency

A former showjumper and King’s Horseman has been jailed for 10 years for raping three teenage trainee instructors at a riding school.

James Armour was convicted of raping the girls, aged 17 to 19, between 1983 and 1989 while on leave from military duty.

The 57-year-old escaped justice for decades until 2019, when one victim reported her ordeal to Rape Crisis and the police, prompting an investigation into abuse at a centre in Fife.

Armour, who was known as Chris, represented Britain as an Army showjumper and was a bombardier in the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery. The unit provides horse teams pulling 13-pounder guns on royal occasions and takes part in Trooping the Colour.

‘Physical and emotional damage’

Lord Young, the judge, said despite having a “responsible and disciplined” role in the military, Armour had left the victims suffering “real physical and emotional damage”.

Sentencing him at the High Court in Glasgow, the judge said: “These offences date back to the 1980s when you were a young soldier. All were committed at an equestrian centre and against young female trainees who lived there.

“These rapes followed a pattern. You stayed [there] while on leave and had access to attack the trainees. It is clear the women, despite the passage of many years, found it upsetting to repeat what you had done.”

The victim, now 57, who went to Rape Crisis, told the court Armour had been a complete stranger to her. He walked into a stable where she was working, assaulted and then raped her.

Similar attacks occurred over the next two years, during some of which she was smacked with a riding crop and had her head held under running taps. She told the jury at the High Court trial in Stirling: “I felt sick. I was just crying all the time.”

The second victim, now 59, was woken by squeaking floorboards as Armour came into her bedroom. He slapped his hand over her mouth and ordered her to be quiet. Asked why she had not reported what happened at the time, she said: “I was scared. I was a naïve young girl and it was the start of my career. If I’d opened up, I would not have had 30 to 40 years with horses. That is what I thought.”

The third victim, now 53, was also raped in a bedroom. She said she had consensually kissed Armour before he forced himself on her and raped her.

She said she did not feel able to report the rape at the time as she “did not think for one moment she would be believed”.


Armour, from Fife, who went on to live in Congleton, Cheshire, claimed all three women were “fantasists”.

He was put on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

Det Sgt Lesley Couper, of Police Scotland’s public protection unit, said after the sentencing: “Armour is a predator who showed utter disregard for the impact on his victims.

“I want to commend each victim in reporting these offences to police and for having the strength to stand up in court, making sure he was held accountable for his actions, and ultimately convicted.

“I hope that this sentence gives all of them some comfort as they try to move forward.”