A sheriff today warned online paedophiles they will be caught – after three separate internet sex offenders admitted horror online abuse charges before him in one morning.
Sheriff Alastair Brown hit out after three men – Michael Hill, Grant McGill and Ross Jameson – admitted computer sex offence charges at Dundee Sheriff Court in the space of an hour.
The lawman said similar cases were now a “regular feature” of Scotland’s criminal courts – and that “people tempted” to download indecent images of children “must understand that every one of these images represents the actual abuse of a real child”.
Hill, 28, McGill, 36, and Jameson, 34, were all placed on the sex offenders register ahead of sentencing after they admitted their crimes at Dundee Sheriff Court.
As he deferred sentence on Hill – who was caught with almost 15,000 indecent images of children and was the third of the men to appear over the separate cases – Sheriff Brown issued his warning.
He said: “This is the third case of this type I’ve had to deal with in this court today.
“Cases of this sort are a regular feature of the solemn criminal business in this court and indeed in others.
“It must be understood that every one of these images represents the actual abuse of a real child.
“And that by providing an audience those who look for and download this kind of material contribute to that abuse and for that reason the law treats the matter very seriously indeed.
“It would be worth those who are tempted to go looking for this type of material realising that everything we do online leaves a trace.
“Those who provide internet services are responsible businesses and there are mechanisms by which police come to know of searches for, downloads of and the sharing of this kind of material.
“If anyone is tempted to go looking for it then quite apart from the fact it’s criminal and the fact its regarded by society – with good reason – as repellent conduct, the chances of being caught and ending up in the dock of this court with a shattered life is quite significant.
“I take the opportunity to say this not because anything about Mr Hill’s case prompts it but because it’s important that from time to time the bench does make the position clear so that the Press, if they choose to report those remarks, are in a position to do so.”
Hill, 28, of The Maples, Dundee, was charged after almost 15,000 indecent images and videos were found on his computer equipment following a raid on the address he shares with his mother.
Fiscal depute Charmaine Gilmartin told the court that some of the content was at the most depraved level of the scale.
Searches of his computer also revealed Hill had researched the law around child abuse images and online encryption.
Sentence on him was deferred until December and he was released on bail and placed on the sex offenders register after he admitted possessing indecent images of children.
Grant McGill, 36, of Victoria Street, Montrose, pleaded guilty to downloading indecent images of children.
Miss Gilmartin told the court his stash came to light after a tip-off – and that cops then raided the home he shared with his partner and child.
His partner later told police she had “no idea” McGill had been downloading the videos found on his laptop.
Some of the content found on his computer featured girls as young as four being abused.
A total of seven indecent videos were found.
Sentence on McGill was deferred until February, and he was also released on bail and placed on the sex offenders register.
Former Dundee resident Ross Jameson, 34, who now lives in Firhill Crescent, Edinburgh, admitted possessing indecent images of children as well as two charges under the Sexual Offences Scotland Act relating to sending sexual messages and making sexual phone calls to girls under the age of 16.
Sentence was deferred on him until next week for the Crown to provide a full narrative of the facts of the case.
Jameson was released on bail and placed on the sex offenders register meantime.