Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 17:05 UK

Paedophile network members jailed

Colin Slaven, Craig Boath, John Milligan, John Murphy, Ross Webber and  Neil Campbell (L - R)
Colin Slaven, Craig Boath, John Milligan, John Murphy, Ross Webber and Neil Campbell were all sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh

Six members of Scotland's biggest paedophile network have been jailed.

Ross Webber, Craig Boath and John Milligan were convicted last month of conspiring to sexually abuse children.

They were also convicted of making and possessing with intent to distribute indecent images of children, with Colin Slaven, John Murphy and Neil Campbell.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, they received sentences ranging from two to 17 years in jail. The judge said their crimes were of the most serious nature.

He told them: "These offences involved real children. Many of the photos involved children being sexually abused, often in the most appalling ways.

The judge said their crimes were of the most serious nature

Speaking outside court, the father of one of the victims told BBC Scotland: "I think they got a sentence which reflects what they have done, they got what they deserved.

"We saw in court at least one defence of them saying they didn't think it was real, it was just a fantasy but I simply cannot accept that.

"It happened to my son, who is a real person with a real name, real friends, real interests, real parents and a real bed that he sleeps in at night. He is a real child and the effects on those real children are extremely distressing and traumatic and in many cases will damage them for the rest of their lives."

"These are not victimless crimes." The men jailed were Slaven, 24, from Edinburgh; Boath, 24, from Dundee; Milligan, 40, Campbell, 46, and Murphy, 44, all from Glasgow; and Webber, 27, from North Berwick.

Before Operation Algebra was launched, none of the accused were known to police, with all of them living double lives
Det Insp Stuart Hood
Lothian and Borders Police

James Rennie and Neil Strachan, who were found guilty of being part of the same paedophile network, are due to be sentenced on 29 July.

Civil servant Milligan received the longest custodial sentence, amounting to 17 years behind bars.

Judge Lord Bannatyne told Milligan he was "a major player" in the conspiracy.

The civil servant had also amassed 78,289 images of child pornography, with more than 10,000 graded at the worst levels of abuse.

Defence solicitor advocate Jim Stephenson, for Milligan, said the first offender had lived "a loner lifestyle" and had cut himself off from society.

Insurance worker Boath was jailed for nine years and nine months, while bank teller Webber was sentenced to eight years and nine months.

IT worker Slaven was jailed for three years, including a year for contempt of court after he turned up drunk at court towards the end of the trial.

Cake firm manager Campbell was ordered to spend three years and four months behind bars, while sauna receptionist Murphy was jailed for two years.

READ THE RULING

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The network came to light after an indecent image was discovered on a computer belonging to Strachan, a registered sex offender.

Strachan was convicted of attempting to rape an 18-month-old boy in Edinburgh on New Year's Eve in 2005.

The jury found Rennie - the former chief of LGBT Youth Scotland, an organisation which offers advice on sexuality to young people - guilty of molesting a young boy over more than four years. The child was just three months old when the abuse started.

Ringleaders Strachan and Rennie, from Edinburgh, face possible life sentences when they are dealt with next month.

During Operation Algebra, Lothian and Borders Police identified up to 70 contacts of the group throughout Britain and abroad.

More than 30 arrests have been made and investigations are still continuing.

Det Insp Stuart Hood, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "It is important to remember whilst this investigation was a success, the fight continues to ensure that all children and vulnerable individuals are protected from this type of abusive exploitation.

"No jail sentence, however lengthy, can begin to compensate the victims in these photographs and videos, some of whom we may never know. Our thoughts today are with them, first and foremost.

"Before Operation Algebra was launched, none of the accused were known to police, with all of them living double lives, competently deceiving friends and colleagues alike."



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PAEDOPHILE NETWORK
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BACKGROUND
Screenshot of software used to trace Rennie and Strachn Network smashed
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THE COURT CASE
TRIAL PART 1
 

TRIAL PART 2
 

AUDIO/VIDEO
Neil Strachan Child abuse ringleaders jailed

The Assistant Chief Constable of Lothian & Borders Police, Ian Livingsto Police on child abuser sentences

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