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Court / Man pleads guilty in ‘most disturbing’ child abuse case

LERWICK Sheriff Court was stunned in disbelief on Wednesday morning when procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie narrated the facts of one of the most disturbing child abuse cases that has come before the court in recent memory.

The fiscal addressed the court after 23-year-old Ross Anderson, from Bridge End, Burra, pleaded guilty to two charges of taking and possessing indecent photographs of children.

The charge of possessing indecent images of children cover a period of more than six years and date back to a time when he was just 16.

The court heard that police officers recovered more than 23,000 digital images and videos, with many of these falling into the most serious category A.

Anderson also pleaded guilty to a charge of sending offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing messages via social media including on the messaging service Telegram.

Sentence has been deferred until 4 October for a criminal justice social work report and a restriction of liberty assessment to be prepared.

Police officers, supported by specialist staff from the Aberdeen-based cybercrime unit, executed a search warrant on Anderson’s home address on 20 December last year.

During the search police focused on Anderson’s bedroom, but everybody present at the address was asked to make their mobile phones available for officers to examine.

They were told that Anderson did not have his phone on him, however, during the search police noticed the sound of a phone vibrating and subsequently found a Huawei phone on a charger under Anderson’s bed.

Police seized a laptop computer, the Huawei phone plus an additional iPhone, as well as children’s underwear and nappies.

All computers and phones underwent a full cybercrime analysis.

Mackenzie told the court that the material the cybercrime officers had to examine were “some of the most disturbing they had ever witnessed”.

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Their report stated that the owner of the devices seemed to have an obsession with toddlers and nappies.

Officers uncovered evidence that Anderson was involved in the distribution of abusive images via encrypted messaging services, and also seized messaging communication in which Anderson boasted about his sexual preferences relating to young children.

Defence solicitor Murray Aitken said he would address the court in mitigation once reports are available and added that his client had been working with a psychologist since he first appeared in court at the end of last year.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank described what he had heard as an “incredibly serious matter” and added that he would reserve any further comments on the case until sentencing in early October.

Anderson was put on the sex offender register, and bail was continued.


Space2face Shetland

Space2face Shetland is an independent and confidential service which uses Restorative Justice and the arts to bring those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm into communication. We enable everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.

If you would like to reach out to us, please contact us via e-mail info@space2face.org or mobile 07564 832467.

If you would like to know more, visit our website www.space2face.org, or our Facebook page #space2faceshetland.

The project is also currently fundraising to secure office space in Shetland’s brand-new creativity and wellness centre, The Mission. If you’re interested in getting involved, or making a donation, head over to www.space2face.org/how-you-can-help



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