November 2016

Montrose man who blamed brother for child abuse images escapes jail

A Montrose man who tried to convince a jury that his brother was responsible for the stash of child abuse and “extreme porn” images found on his computer today (Thursday) dodged a jail term.

Andrew Duncan’s home that he shared with his parents and siblings was raided by police last year following a tip-off.

Computers belonging to him and his toy shop worker brother Steven Duncan were seized by police.

Officers found a large haul of child abuse images on Steven’s computers – an offence that last month saw him sentenced to a community payback order and placed on the sex offenders register after he admitted his guilt.

But Andrew Duncan denied any involvement in downloading and possessing the indecent material found on his computers.

Forensic examiners also found file cleansing software often used by internet sex offenders to cover their trails on his computer.

Duncan claimed he had it as part of an “ethical hacking” course he was taking at Abertay University.

Instead he lodged a special defence incriminating his 29-year-old brother – despite evidence suggesting some of the files had been downloaded to Andrew Duncan’s computer in his bedroom at 2am on one night.

Summing up the case for the jury at Dundee Sheriff Court, fiscal depute Vicki Bell said Duncan “became obnoxious” while he gave evidence and added “he didn’t seem fussed at all” over the “serious charges”.

She said: “That’s not normal.”

Miss Bell added: “He told police in interview that Steven had not had access to his computer for a long time – and certainly not in 2015.

“Indecent images are found to have been previewed on the computer in 2015 and that’s been put to him by police and he can’t explain it.

“There is only one explanation, the Crown says – it was him, unless he is suggesting his brother was sitting in his room at 2.15am watching child porn.

“Steven had his own computer in his room and his own collection of child porn, as we have heard.

“Why would he have to go to Andrew’s bedroom and download indecent images when he can – and did – do so in his own bedroom?”

But defence solicitor Nick Whelan urged the jury to acquit his client.

He said: “This is a very, very emotive subject but all emotions must be put to the back of your mind – they must not interfere with the determination of the facts.

“He had no knowledge his brother had been downloading this illicit material.

“The bottom line is he did not know the material was there.

“It is artificial to ignore his brother pleaded guilty – unexpectedly he says – to the offence of having a fairly substantial amount of indecent images that were of a similar character.”

Duncan (24), of Market Street, Montrose, denied three charges on indictment of possessing and taking or making indecent images of children and possessing extreme pornographic images.

However, a jury of eight men and seven women took just an hour to find him guilty by majority of the child abuse image charges and unanimously of the extreme pornography charge.

Sheriff Lorna Drummond QC imposed a community payback order with 240 hours unpaid work and a year’s supervision and placed him on the sex offender’s register for one year.

She said: “The jury found you guilty of these three charges.

“Having regard to the reports and having heard all the evidence about the number of images and their category I can deal with this by way of a community payback order.”