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Court / Sex offender jailed for almost three years

A YOUNG sex offender from Burra has been sent to jail for 32 months in what was described as an “exceptional” and “disturbing” case of child abuse.

Ross Anderson, of Bridge End, pleaded guilty to a charge of possession thousands of indecent images and videos over a six year period when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court at the end of August.

He also admitted distributing some of these images over an 18-month period between June 2021 and December last year.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank told the 23-year-old that there was no alternative to a custodial sentence, when he appeared at court for sentencing on Wednesday afternoon.

During a lengthy and detailed submission in mitigation, defence solicitor Martin Morrow had invited the sheriff to consider a complex community payback order that would punish Anderson but would keep him out of prison – whilst allowing him to continue on a path of rehabilitation.

The solicitor argued that sending Anderson to jail would take away the help he has been seeking voluntarily over recent months through the charity Stop it Now and expose him “for the first time” to “contact sexual offenders”.

He said such a move would be “entirely unhelpful” as rehabilitation would not feature at all in prison, a suggestion procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie took offence to.

Contrary to Murray’s submission, the fiscal described Anderson as high risk and, quoting from the criminal justice social work report, he added that at this stage it was “difficult to assess” whether Anderson had a “meaningful understanding of the harm he had caused”.

The court had previously heard how police had searched Anderson’s home address in December last year and confiscated a laptop and two mobile phones.

Man pleads guilty in ‘most disturbing’ child abuse case

What they found on the devices was described by cybercrime officers as “some of the most disturbing [material] they had ever witnessed”.

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The specialist officer’s report stated that the owner of the devices seemed to have an obsession with toddlers and nappies.

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

Sentencing Anderson, Sheriff Cruickshank said he accepted that there would be public revulsion and disagreement with the length of sentence that he was to impose, adding that his duty was to pass sentence that was fair and proportionate.

Noting that the nature of Anderson’s offending increased over time, he sentenced him to 20 months in jail for possessing indecent photographs of children over a six-year period, and to 28 months for distributing some of these over a period lasting one and a half years.

Both these sentences will run concurrently.

Anderson was given an additional four months for breaching the communications act by sending indecent images.

He was put on the sex offenders register for 10 years, and will have to obey to a sexual harm prevention order for six years, which will strictly regulate his ability to own computer equipment and access the internet.

Anderson will also be prevented from having contact with children under the age of 16 unless supervised by an adult.


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 or mobile 07564 832467.

If you would like to know more, visit our website, 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



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