November 2016

Dingwall man who downloaded child abuse images and videos, avoids jail

A DINGWALL man has been warned he faces years in jail if he fails to fulfil obligations imposed on him by the court for downloading child sexual abuse images and videos

Twenty seven-year-old Liam Mackay was ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and placed on three years’ supervision by Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood after his solicitor Pauline Chapman pleaded for a non-custodial sentence.

Mackay admitted downloading the obscene material at his home in Deas Avenue between December 15, 2013, and September 17, 2014.

Mackay appeared for sentence at Inverness Sheriff Court today.

The court was told at an earlier hearing that a total of 8816 indecent images and 54 indecent videos of children were recovered from a laptop.

Three folders were found on a hard drive which contained indecent material totalling 69 photographs and one video and a single video was found on the second hard drive.

Titles related to “child models 2” and “pre-teen”.

Police had been alerted to an I.P. address at Mackay’s home being used to download the material and a search warrant was obtained.

Asked if he was in possession of any indecent images Mackay told police: “Not as far as I’m aware but something could have downloaded on uTorrent. I don’t have any virus protection at the moment.”

Sentence had been deferred for reports before Ms Chapman made her mitigation plea.

She said reports showed Mackay had accepted responsibility and the impact the offence had on the victims and his own family. She also submitted a reference from a minister and said the reports had recommended him as a suitable candidate for a community based sex offenders programme.

But Sheriff Fleetwood questioned whether Mackay was accepting responsibility and the impact his offending had on others.

“He has been brought kicking and screaming to where we are today.

He even challenged the ages of the girls and the term ‘accidental downloading’ is used (in the report) when he followed an unambiguous link which took him to the material which is the basis of the charge today.”

Sheriff Fleetwood also dismissed the letter on Mackay’s behalf from the minister.

“I’m not interested in whether he helped dogs and people across the street. What I’m interested in his deviant sexual practices.

“The impression I have is of a man who has deep seated deviant proclivities which may benefit from treatment.”

He said his impression was Mackay was only keen to participate in a supervision programme because he knew the alternative would be to go to prison.

Ms Chapman said Mackay was “fully aware” of the effect of his actions on others including the children involved and his own family who remained supportive of him.

The reports she said recommended a community based disposal.

She said the material was at the lowest category and he was staggered by the quantity of material which was found.

“It’s clear his initial reaction (when he found the material) was disgust. However the problem developed.”

Sheriff Fleetwood said if he was that disgusted he shouldn’t have opened up other files.

However he said he would make a community pay back order.

“The sentence I am about to pass is a direct alternative to prison,” he told Mackay.

“If you do not attend you will go to prison and that will be counted in years.”

He placed him on the Sex Offenders register and on supervision for three years with conditions that he undertakes the sex offenders rehabilitation programme.

He also ordered Mackay to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.