Blackmail beast was ‘planning to rape and murder young girl’ in horror plot
An internet groomer was jailed for three years yesterday – as police said they believe he would have killed a young girl.
When officers raided Sean McCuaig’s home they found a horrifying plan to blackmail, kidnap, rape and murder a youngster.
Detective Inspector Andy McWilliam, head of Police Scotland’s Cyber Crime Unit, said he believes McCuaig intended to execute his detailed plot.
At Glasgow Sheriff Court McCuaig was jailed for three years – with a further three years on extended licence – after Sheriff Johanna Johnston told him he carries a high risk of re-offending.
She said: “Given the high risk you present at present, and the nature of this course of offending, I’m satisfied that the test for an extended sentence has been met.”
She also told McCuaig, 22, of Glasgow that he would be on the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely.
At an earlier hearing, McCuaig pled guilty to 20 charges including causing the girls to look at nude images with their faces superimposed on them, threatening to post and posting pictures, and downloading, distributing and having explicit pornographic images depicting women being raped.
He had a total of 2653 indecent images of children and 65 moving images, including some in the most serious category.
The court heard the police investigation started in March last year when a victim contacted the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre to report being blackmailed.
DI McWilliam said of the plan to abduct and murder: “There was nothing to suggest the document was fantasy.
“It began with how he would groom, gain control and power over the girls to get them to do what he wanted online.
“It detailed how he would meet up with one of the girls, abduct her without being caught and how he would sexually assault her. In the event she saw his face, he had worked out how he would kill her.”
It was a complaint from a 12-year-old girl, groomed by McCuaig, which sparked the joint operation between the National Child Abuse Investigation Unit (NCAIU) and the Cyber Crime Unit (CCU).
McCuaig’s online behaviour was already on the CCU’s radar but it was the girl’s complaint which helped piece together his identity.
He was a loner who came from a broken home and devoted hours to tormenting and blackmailing young girls, aged from 12 to 17.
To reel in his victims, McCuaig had created false female profiles under the name Cara, to appear less threatening to young girls.
He sent them their profile photograph superimposed on a naked body, and threatened to post the image, if they didn’t comply with his sordid requests.
McCuaig demanded they forward him naked pictures of themselves or performing sexual acts on camera.
Most complied, terrified of the perceived shame of their fake naked image being seen by friends and family. One distraught girl sent pictures of her sobbing, begging him to leave her alone but he told her to comply or face the consequences.
DI McWilliam said: “Once he had that control, that leverage over them, he felt he could do whatever he wanted.”
McCuaig warned his victims, if he put images on the web, they would be there forever and they could never escape the shame.
McCuaig would cease contact, sometimes for months, but just as the girls thought they were free, the torment would begin again. DI McWilliam said:”There was no respite.”
Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Taylor, of the NCAIU said McCuaig was set on a murderous course. She said:“We probably caught him just in time. He was a dangerous man.
“He was a despicable coward who tried to hide his identity. He thought he would never get caught, but he did.”
His campaign of intimidation was psychological torture for the girls and at least one came close to suicide.
The victims were spread across Scotland and police used facial recognition to help identify them.
DCI Taylor added: “He seemed to contact them when he had an urge to do so and there was no preselection of his victims, it was opportunistic.”
McCuaig may have used his targets’ facebook friends’ lists as a portal to find other victims.
He pled guilty to charges relating to nine girls but police know of double that number.
Over a two-year period, it is believed he contacted many more victims and police are urging them to come forward.
DI McWilliam said: ”We will probably never establish how many girls he tried to groom who didn’t respond.”
McCuaig helped master his own downfall, by methodically filing his victims under their names, who police then traced, with the help of schools and social work. He had hidden behind anonymous web browsers on the dark web, convinced he wouldn’t be caught but police technology can now find such abusers
When police raided the home he shared with his mother, Detective Constable Lance Wilkinson of CCU made the first approaches to McCuaig.
He said: “He seemed like he didn’t have a care in the world. He was cocky. He thought he was hidden behind a cloak of invincibility and invisibility.
“When he was brought in for interview he spoke freely at first but that changed when we put the evidence of the victims to him.
“He knew we had his devices but didn’t realise we had spoken to all the victims in person.
“When the reality of that hit, he changed and he became reticent and quiet.” In court McCuaig’s defence solicitor Craig Grimes said his client’s early guilty pleas were to spare vulnerable victimns the ordeal of giving evidence in court.
Sheriff Johnston told McCuaig he would have been jailed for four years had he not pleaded guilty.
Paedophile faces jail for blackmailing schoolgirls into sending pictures and videos