May 2017

Former Newmilns man found guilty of sending indecent images to a 15-year-old girl

A man who sent indecent messages to a 15-year-old girl via Skype has been placed on the sex offenders register for three years.

Edward Leggate, 26 –now of Strathaven – was also made subject to a three-year supervision order after he admitted sending messages and remarks of a sexual nature to the child, whose real identity is unknown – in May 2015.

He also pleaded guilty to taking or permitting to be taken or making indecent photographs of children at a house in Newmilns, between May and October 2015.

Sheriff Elizabeth McFarlane slammed Leggate for his lack of honesty when being interviewed for a criminal justice social work report.

When he appeared for sentence at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court on Monday, his defence counsel said that he found himself “in a difficult position”.

He told the sheriff: “You see the criminal justice social work report in terms of charge one, to which he pleaded guilty on the last occasion.”

The advocate explained that Leggate’s last-minute guilty plea – tendered on the day he was due to stand trial – was down to his “fear and shame over these offences”.

He said: “Given his previous non-involvement with the criminal justice system, he has simply buried his head in the sand.”

The only involvement his family had ever had with the justice system was his mother carrying out jury service.

The lawyer said that Leggate had committed the offences following the break-up of a relationship, which he had taken badly.

He had turned to social media “as a distraction”.

Leggate, he said, had started out by contacting people he knew on chat forums, but later became involved with strangers, including the 15-year-old girl.

“Shortly thereafter he was fully aware she was 15 years of age.”

“The contact took place on a Sunday evening when he had been drinking,” said counsel.

“He accepts fully his behaviour was shameful and criminal.”

Leggate, he pointed out, was a first offender and was in full-time employment as a warehouse supervisor.

He was now in a new relationship with a woman, aged 27.

“She is fully aware of these matters,” said the lawyer.

He said that Leggate recognised the seriousness of his behaviour and had displayed “remorse, shame and embarrassment”.

Sheriff McFarlane said that the criminal justice social work report made “uncomfortable reading”.

Leggate, she said, would have been better off he had been “open and honest” with those preparing it.

The sheriff made it clear that she did not believe the accused’s claims his behaviour was not sexually motivated and that he had not gained sexual gratification.

And she added: “As for you blaming the 15-year-old girl, that beggars belief as well.”

Sheriff McFarlane said that the only appropriate sentence was long-term supervision to allow Leggate to address his issues.

She said: “I am going to give you three years in which your overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame can be addressed.”

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