Monday, January 14, 2008

Gambler viewed child pornography - then hid in the Forest

Gambler viewed child pornography

A Falkirk man who went to live in a forest after running up huge gambling debts online has been convicted of downloading child pornography.

Andrew Dickson, 43, vanished from his Grangemouth home in September 2006.

Following his disappearance, his family handed over his laptop to police in a bid to trace him.

They discovered a series of illicit videos featuring children. Dickson was placed on the sex offenders register and given 180 hours community service.

Falkirk Sheriff Court heard how Dickson had run up debts of more than £30,000 before going on to download the disturbing images of children being sexually abused.

The day after he viewed the videos he hid in a forest near Callander in Perthshire for almost 13 days.

He was taken to Stirling Royal Infirmary, where a psychiatrist described his behaviour as 'bizarre'

While he was gone a family member handed his laptop to police in an attempt to trace him.

When computer forensics experts at Central Scotland Police scoured the laptop's hard drive, they found three videos of children engaged in sexual acts.

'Mainstream porn'

Dickson had downloaded the videos using file sharing software, making them available to other users across the world, free from his computer.

Prosecutor Alastair McSporran said the graphic videos were at the "higher end" of the Copine scale used to grade child pornography offences.

He said it appeared Dickson had run away from home in an attempt to escape his financial problems. He added: "The videos featured boys and girls aged as young as 11."

Dickson, of Cedar Street, Grangemouth, pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing indecent photographs of a child with a view to them being distributed or shown to others.

Mike Lowrie, defending, said Dickson had tried to remove the images from his computer the day he downloaded them.

He said: "He downloaded the software so he could download music.

"He decided to download some 'mainstream' porn, but in the course of his searches downloaded material that can be described as paedophilic.

"His curiosity got the better of him and he viewed the videos before deleting them on the same day. "

'Previous involvement'

Mr Lowrie said his client survived in the forest without food or bedding and had intended to end his life.

He added: "He stayed for 13 days, then left before being taken to a police station by a traffic warden.

"He was taken to Stirling Royal Infirmary, where a psychiatrist described his behaviour as 'bizarre'."

Sheriff William Gallacher sentenced Dickson to two years' probation and ordered him to carry out 180 hours of community service.

Placing Dickson on the sex offender's register for two years, Sheriff Gallacher added that he was "party to the abuse of children".

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