Page last updated at 12:01 GMT, Saturday, 9 May 2009 13:01 UK

Minister warns child sex abusers

Colin Slaven, Craig Boath, James Rennie,  John Milligan, John Murphy, Neil Strachan, Ross Webber and  Neil Campbell
The accused were (top, left to right) Colin Slaven, Craig Boath, James Rennie, John Milligan, (bottom, left to right) John Murphy, Neil Strachan, Ross Webber and Neil Campbell

Scotland's Justice Secretary has predicted more paedophiles will be brought to justice after a major Scottish child sex network was smashed.

Kenny MacAskill personally thanked officers involved in Operation Algebra, two days after eight men were convicted of child sex offences in Edinburgh.

The crimes included the attempted rape of a toddler and the sexual assault of a three-month-old boy.

Mr MacAskill said the landmark case paved the way for more prosecutions.

Edinburgh man James Rennie, 38, who was chief executive of an advice group for gay young people, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a three-month-old boy.

Those who commit abuse but also those who plot such crimes can expect to be caught and treated with the full severity of the law.
Kenny MacAskill
Justice secretary

Neil Strachan, 41, also of Edinburgh, was found guilty of the attempted rape of an 18-month-old boy, following the 10-week trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Colin Slaven, 23, 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 relating to child abuse or indecent images of children.

Conspiracy charges

Mr MacAskill said the case was historic because it led to the first ever convictions in Scotland for conspiracy to commit abuse against children.

He said: "It means that not only those who commit abuse but also those who plot such crimes can expect to be caught and treated with the full severity of the law.

"Developments both in the techniques employed by investigators and the nature of the prosecution mean that those who use the internet to plan crimes of abuse against children know that we can find them and they will be punished.

"Truly appalling crimes were uncovered and the perpetrators successfully brought to justice thanks to the outstanding work of the police officers and prosecutors involved in Operation Algebra, and as a society we are deeply grateful for the work they do, day-in day-out."

'Evil' crimes

Earlier Mr MacAskill spoke of his disgust at the nature of the crimes uncovered.

He said: "The appalling crimes brought to light by Operation Algebra have shocked and saddened me, as I'm sure they have shocked most people across Scotland.

"Our thoughts must be first with the victims and their families who, I'm assured, have been getting the support they need to rebuild their lives.

"While none of us can imagine the pain that these evil crimes have brought upon them, I hope the successful convictions can bring them some measure of comfort."

He said the offences in the case pre-dated some key reforms designed to protect the public from sex offenders.

Mr MacAskill said the police would, nonetheless, review the management of Strachan - who had a previous conviction in 1997 for abusing a boy - to establish if any lessons could be learned.

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