October 2003

Ex-policeman sentenced for child abuse images

A former police officer who downloaded a huge collection of child pornography from the internet has escaped a jail sentence.

Alexander McArthur was put on probation for three years and ordered to attend an 18-month sex offenders treatment course.

McArthur, 30, admitted having 5,613 photos and 148 indecent video images, all of children.

The offences were committed when he downloaded the material on to computers at his home in Aberdeen, while he was still a serving police officer.

McArthur, who committed the offences between April and August 2002, used his credit card to buy time and images on a child pornography website.

He was caught after a raid on an American business called Landslide as part of the Operation Ore hunt to catch internet paedophiles.

Appearing for sentence at Aberdeen Sheriff Court, McArthur was also ordered to complete 300 hours of community service and was placed on the sex offenders register.

In a statement, Grampian Police said: “McArthur is no longer employed by Grampian Police and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment on him as an individual.

“However, Grampian Police deeply regrets the fact that a serving police officer should have been involved in activities which every right-minded adult would abhor.”

‘Emotional stress’

McArthur, who served in the force for nine years, worked in the control room at headquarters in Aberdeen.

His defence advocate Shaid Latif told the court he had been suffering from “emotional stress” following the break-up of his relationship.

Mr Latif said the accused, a first offender, had been the subject of death threats.

Sheriff Alexander Jessop referred to a social inquiry report which assessed McArthur as posing a low risk to the community.

Sentence had been deferred to allow Sheriff Jessop to view some of the images, which involved children between the ages of five and 15.

“I find these personally repulsive,” he told McArthur. “These children are victims of crime.”

Technical challenge

McArthur originally pleaded not guilty and appeared for trial in September when he tried to have the case thrown out on a technicality by claiming the police search of his flat had been unlawful.

When the sheriff rejected this challenge, he changed his plea to guilty.

A spokesman for the child protection charity, Children 1st, said: “In this case the court has chosen to deliver a non-custodial sentence.

“We believe that it is essential, whether the sentence is custodial or not, that the offending behaviour is addressed and that offenders are not released back onto the streets to repeat such crimes against children.”