Thursday, October 29, 2009

Scottish Paedophile gang leaders sentenced to life

The two ringleaders of Scotland’s biggest paedophile gang have been given life sentences for a horrifying string of child pornography and abuse crimes, which included a sexual assault on a three-month old baby.

Convicted sex offender Neil Strachan will serve a minimum of 16 years and gay rights campaigner James Rennie a minimum of 13.

Both will be subject to a life-long restriction order.

The judge said Strachan had a "sadistic and aggressive personality" and breached a family’s trust to satisfy his "base sexual interests".


He described Rennie as a "spider" at the centre of the conspiracy, "weaving an electronic web" in order to distribute child pornography over the internet.

HIV-positive Strachan, 41, a Repeat Sex Offender, was found guilty of attempting to rape an 18-month-old boy and sexually assaulting a six-year-old boy at a trial earlier this year.
Rennie, 38, the ex-boss of LGBT Youth Scotland, an organisation dedicated to helping young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, was convicted of molesting a young boy over more than four years, beginning when the child was aged just three months.

The pair, both from Edinburgh, were also convicted of a string of child porn charges, alongside six other men who have already been sentenced.

They were further found guilty of conspiring to abuse children, as were three other members of the network, after a 10-week trial.

In his closing statement, Lord Bannantyne said: "These types of offences are serious in that they maintain the market for paedophilic pornographic material. If there were fewer people willing to download such material, either for their own use or with the intention of distributing, the encouragement for those who manufacture these photographs, with all the clearly serious effects such manufacture must have on children, would be lessened."

The men were snared by one of the most complex and challenging inquiries carried out by Scots police.

They were traced through their explicit internet chats about sexual fantasies involving children.
In total, nearly 125,000 indecent images were seized during Operation Algebra.

Strachan, despite being one of the worst offenders in the group, was the only one of the eight men on trial this year who denied every charge against him.

Prosecutors were forced to piece together the case against him bit by bit.

Crucial to their case was a photograph partially showing a man sexually assaulting a young child.
The Crown called on a world-renowned expert in human anatomy to examine the picture, known in court as The Hogmanay Image.
In his statement, Lord Bannantyne said: "By its very nature what is shown in that photograph is utterly appalling and would shock to the core any right-minded person who has had to see it.

"Over and above that this offence involves the most gross level of breach of trust. You were invited into a house; treated as a friend of the family; and then entrusted with their child.

"You then breached that trust in the way shown in the "Hogmanay Image" in order to satisfy your base sexual interests. This in my judgment can be properly described as a dreadful crime."
Rennie, 38, was the successful chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, where he was a confidante to teenagers and a champion of gay rights.
He was convicted of betraying his close friends, who allowed him to babysit their young child. But Rennie began abusing the child when it was only three months old.
After police uncovered the crimes, they visited the family’s home in Edinburgh to show them photos and a video clip that Rennie had taken .The family then had to send their child to be tested for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.
The judge said: "The level of betrayal, it seems to me, is truly appalling in its extent. These people had always stood by you; they had been there for you; given you their friendship; brought you into their lives and into the lives of their child (you were made their child’s godfather) and entrusted their child to you to look after. What did you do? You wholly betrayed that friendship and breached their trust in the grossest manner.
Paint firm engineer Strachan, 41, sparked Operation Algebra when he left indecent images of children on a computer he sent for repair.

Tests then revealed "sinister" emails between him and Rennie.

They had encountered each other online in 2004 when Strachan congratulated Rennie on the content of his web page on a site known to have been used by paedophiles.
When the case came to trial, the jury did not know was that Strachan had offended before. He was jailed for three years in 1997 for repeatedly molesting a young boy while he was an official at a youth football club. He started abusing the child when he was five years old and the abuse went on for two years.
Strachan quit his post as secretary of Celtic East Boys Club in Edinburgh after he was caught.

When he was jailed, it emerged that he had also been convicted of a similar sex offence 12 years previously.

"25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years"
.........Sarah Tofte

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