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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Man jailed over child porn images
Hands on computer keyboard
The number of images involved will affect the sentence
A former voluntary worker who downloaded hundreds of pornographic pictures of children from the internet has been jailed for four-months.

Alan McDonald, 27, was working with children on a council-funded project when he used his work computer to access and store the images.

He volunteered for the North Lanarkshire Council scheme which involved teaching youngsters how to use computers.

McDonald admitted having made 600 obscene pictures of young girls by using a council computer at Kirkshaws Neighbourhood House in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, over three months at the end of 2000.


The court clearly has a public duty to deal with a matter of this nature and I don't seek to minimise the gravity of these offences

Eric Wallace
Defending

He put them onto a floppy disk and then transferred them to his own computer at home in Coatbridge.

Sheriff Robert H. Dickson viewed all 600 of the images with the help of two IT experts from Strathclyde Police before sentencing McDonald on Tuesday morning at Airdrie Sheriff Court.

McDonald's lawyer, Eric Wallace said that since the case had appeared in the media his client had received death threats, had lost his job as a call centre operator with Sky TV and had been thrown out of home by his parents.

He said: "He has also received abusive phone calls on his mobile, which he has had to change, and has been unable to show his face in public."

The lawyer, in McDonald's defence, claimed his client "deleted the directories" at the end of every one of his downloading sessions at the centre.

Unmonitored computer

But one night, he got sloppy, and was running late to meet a friend, he forgot, and the following day his scheme was uncovered.

Mr Wallace said: "There was no question of him downloading and distributing these images. They were for the sole purpose of his own gratification.

"I accept they are degrading and disgusting images and any right minded person would be appalled, but they were not as grave as some that can be obtained from the internet.

"The court clearly has a public duty to deal with a matter of this nature and I don't seek to minimise the gravity of these offences."

At a previous hearing Fiscal Depute Brian Duffy told Sheriff Dickson how McDonald was also a youth leader in a club within a Baptist Church.


Having viewed the images and read the social enquiry report I find no alternative other than that of a custodial sentence

Sheriff Robert H. Dickson

McDonald had worked with youngsters at the Neighbourhood House for 10 months before his scheme was uncovered.

The court was told 11 of the computers in the centre were linked to North Lanarkshire Council's IT department where they could be monitored - but one of the computers, which had internet access, was not on the link.

McDonald realised this and used this computer to carry out his crime.

He had previously been turned down for any involvement in the local boys' brigade after they discovered he had a previous conviction for an incident involving an air rifle.

In sentencing McDonald, Sheriff Dickson said: "We are not normally subjected to this type of case. Having viewed the images and read the social enquiry report I find no alternative other than that of a custodial sentence.

"I take into account the consequences to you and your family after the publicity this case received. I also take into account your early plea of guilty."

McDonald was sentenced to four months in prison and a further two years on licence when he is released.

He was also put on the Sex Offenders' Register.

See also:

18 Oct 01 | Scotland
18 Oct 01 | Scotland
29 May 01 | Scotland
03 May 01 | Scotland
18 Apr 01 | Scotland
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