Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 18:37 UK

Eight guilty in child abuse case

Convicted paedophiles

Gavin Walker reports on how the eight men were brought to justice

Eight members of a paedophile network have been found guilty of a catalogue of charges relating to child abuse and indecent images of children.

Neil Strachan, 41, was found guilty of the attempted rape of an 18-month-old boy and James Rennie, 38, guilty of sexually assaulting a three-month-old.

The Edinburgh men, and three others, were also found guilty of conspiring to get access to children to abuse them.

All eight men will be sentenced at a later date.

Colin Slaven, 23, also from Edinburgh, Neil Campbell, 46, John Milligan, 40, and John Murphy, 44 - all from Glasgow - Ross Webber, 27, from North Berwick in East Lothian, and Craig Boath, 24, from Dundee, were convicted of various charges.

All of those involved in the investigation and prosecution of the case have been profoundly affected by it
Morag McLaughlin
Procurator fiscal

The jury returned the verdicts at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Two of the men, Strachan - who was jailed for three years in 1997 for abusing a boy - and Rennie, the chief executive of advice centre LGBT Youth Scotland, were convicted of sex attacks on children.

Strachan and Rennie were also found guilty of conspiring to abuse youngsters, as were Webber, Boath and Milligan.

Campbell was also accused of conspiracy, but he was cleared on that charge after the jury found the case against him not proven.

All eight accused in the 10-week trial were convicted of possessing and making indecent images and seven of them were found to have distributed images.

A charge of distribution against Slaven was withdrawn by the Crown.


Reevel Alderson reports on efforts to tackle paedophiles who use the internet

The men were traced through their explicit internet chats about sexual fantasies involving children after the discovery of an indecent image of an 11-year-old boy on a work computer.

Nearly 125,000 indecent images were seized during Operation Algebra, which uncovered what is believed to be Scotland's biggest paedophile network.

It has also emerged that Strachan was diagnosed HIV positive in June 2007.

In statements issued on behalf of the families of the abused children, the mother of the child referred to in court as Child JL said: "The anguish I feel towards Mr Strachan is indescribable.

"I will never be able to forgive him for the sick acts that he committed against my son.

"I feel that no matter what punishment given to Mr Strachan it will never be able to compensate for the hurt, devastation and great deal of stress brought to me and my family."

To subsequently learn that he abused our son, and invited others to do the same, has been devastating
The family of Child F

The family of Child F said: "For a year and four months now we have had to live with the impact and haunting consequences this has had on our lives.

"For over 15 years James Rennie seemed the closest of family friends, and it is hard to put into words the extent of the betrayal he has exacted upon us, as many of the details may identify our family and son.

"To subsequently learn that he abused our son, and invited others to do the same, has been devastating."

Speaking after the verdict, Morag McLaughlin, area procurator fiscal for Lothian and Borders, said: "Tens of thousands of photographic and video images of children being sexually abused were recovered.

"All of those involved in the investigation and prosecution of the case have been profoundly affected by it."

Criminologist Professor David Wilson on tackling paedophilia on the internet

Det Supt Allan Jones, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "It is every parent's nightmare that their children have been abused and they knew nothing about it.

"Despite that, the families have been a source of unwavering support throughout this investigation and it is our sincere hope the children will flourish and they will be able to enjoy the normal family lives they rightly deserve.

"What everyone must remember is that behind every image is a child who is being abused - it is definitely not the victimless crime some would like to portray it as."

The Operation Algebra police investigation to track down the men has uncovered dozens more suspects around the country and worldwide, many of whom have already been charged.

Total - 70 targets identified to date.
Avon and Somerset 2 accused identified and charged in Bristol
Metropolitan Police 3 targets identified in London
Greater Manchester Police 2 targets identified in Manchester
West Yorkshire Constabulary 3 targets identified in Scarborough, Ilkley and Driffield
Cambridgeshire Police 1 target identified in Chatteris
Surrey Police 1 target identified in Croydon
Sussex Police 4 targets identified in Gosport, Bexhill-on-Sea, Worthing and Brighton - 1 accused charged to date
North Yorks Police 1 target identified in Huddersfield.
Devon and Cornwall 3 targets identified in Newquay and Plymouth
Thames Valley Police 2 targets identified in Reading and Newport Pagnell
Merseyside Police 1 accused identified and charged in Liverpool
Hampshire Police 1 target identified in Fareham
Essex Police 1 target identified in Basildon
West Midlands Police 1 target identified in Birmingham.
Northumbria Police 1 accused identified and charged in Sunderland.
Lincolnshire Police 1 accused identified and charged in Spilsby.
Staffordshire 2 targets identified in Stoke-on-Trent
Lancashire 1 target identified in Darwen
Strathclyde 13 targets identified in Glasgow, Motherwell, Paisley, Dumbarton, Cambuslang and Larkhall. 7 accused charged to date
Lothian and Borders 3 targets identified in Edinburgh and Livingston. 2 accused charged to date
Central Scotland Police 1 accused identified and charged in Alloa.
Tayside 2 targets identified in Dundee.
Grampian 1 target identified in Aberdeen
Northern 1 target identified in Inverness area.
Dumfries and Galloway 1 target identified in Dumfries.
Northern Ireland
PSNI 1 target identified in Northern Ireland
United States of America 2 targets identified. 1 accused charged
Netherlands 1 target identified. 1 accused charged

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