March 2014

Nursery abuser Alexander Mortimer ‘groomed parents’

A review into the case of a Lanarkshire nursery worker who abused boys has said more robust procedures are needed to detect offenders who seek to “groom parents” to get to their children.

Alexander Mortimer, 30, was jailed for more than five years in 2012 for filming himself abusing two young boys and taking indecent photographs.

The review said he tried to be friends with parents to get to their children.

It also said some nursery colleagues’ concerns about him were not acted upon.

Mortimer was originally jailed for eight years but this was reduced to five years and 11 months on appeal.

mo

The court heard how he filmed and photographed the abuse he carried out on two young boys, and was found to have 17,967 indecent images and 582 videos on his computer.

Some of the images were categorised as “level five”, which are considered the most depraved.

When his home in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, was searched by police, Mortimer claimed he had been researching child abuse for a college course.

He later admitted molesting the boys, who were aged between two and three at the time, and taking indecent photos of them.

He also pleaded guilty to possessing indecent photos of children and downloading the indecent material.

‘Most disturbing’

Following his conviction, a Significant Case Review was carried out by South Lanarkshire Child Protection Committee.

The review concluded: “One of the most disturbing aspects of this case was the way in which the perpetrator seems to have set about building up his ability to access children over several years through his career path and the way he created opportunity to abuse children by befriending parents he met through his work.

“He groomed parents in order to get to children.

“As the review brings out, this has implications for recruitment on to training courses and into employment for child protection training, for the alertness of management to the possibility that this could happen and for all involved to be receptive to any concerns raised by parents or colleagues.”

The review also noted that “several colleagues had raised concerns with internal managers” about some of Mortimer’s behaviour which “had not been in line with nursery protocols”.

A report into the review also revealed managers were told by staff that Mortimer did not wear gloves while changing nappies.

Mortimer only received a ten-minute job interview when and was graded “low” by assessors when he was applying to South Lanarkshire to work with pre-school children, the review also found.

The review has recommended that national bodies should consider how difficult it is for staff to “whistleblow” due to fears about the reaction they will get.

The new report, which refers to Mortimer as M, states: “During the police enquiries, and a series of support sessions set up for relatives and staff in the period following M’s arrest, it emerged that M had made regular efforts during the time of his employment there and in previous settings to befriend relatives and colleagues and thereby to gain access to children outside the nursery via activities such as babysitting.

“A number of parents had resisted these efforts. It was also noted by the police that around the time of his arrest he had made an enquiry to the council about the possibility of adoption. It also emerged that several colleagues had raised concerns with internal managers about some of his behaviours which had not been in line with nursery protocols but these had not been passed on to or further discussed with external managers.”

The report later details how It emerged during enquiries, both by police and internally, that several staff raised issues of discomfort with internal managers about some of Mortimer’s behaviours at work.

The report says: “These had not been discussed further with external managers or taken up with M directly, and there were issues in the recording of them.

“It was felt that the response to these was confused with assumptions that others were being discriminatory about male workers.

“The kind of examples were of M not using gloves when changing nappies, and closing toilet doors when with a child.

It noted: “But these had not been passed on to or further discussed with external managers.”

It is understood that the behaviour referred to related to Mortimer’s “unkempt” appearance and a perception of him being “lazy”, rather than any concerns that he posed a threat to children.

CPC chairman Norman Dunning said, however, that if elements of Mortimer’s behaviour had been acted upon sooner, he may have been put off from attempting his abusive activities.

“In this case, the perpetrator clearly broke rules in the nursery, and even though it couldn’t be predicted from that, that he would go on to abuse children, it is important that when concerns are raised, by colleagues or parents, they are picked up on,” he said.

Serious issues

“If those concerns had been picked up on, it is possible he would not have felt it was so easy to get away with other more serious behaviour.”

Mr Dunning told BBC Scotland that the review report raised serious issues for all agencies involved in the care of children.

“The lessons that we should all learn are that we need to be alert to the possibility that some perpetrators may build up a career over several years in order to gain access to children.

“Even though they may not get unsupervised access to children in their workplace, they may befriend parents in order to gain such access.

“So, what we have to do is make our recruitment processes as robust as we can and make sure services and parents are alert to those dangers.”

November 2012

Sex crime nursery worker Alexander Mortimer has jail term cut

A nursery worker from Lanarkshire who was jailed for eight years for filming himself abusing young boys has had his prison term cut by appeal judges.

Alexander Mortimer, 28, admitted assaulting the boys, taking indecent photographs of children, and possessing indecent images.

His lawyers successfully argued he was not given a large enough sentence reduction for his early guilty plea.

Appeal judges reduced his prison term to five years and 11 months.

He could be back on our streets by mid-2014 !

When he was sentenced, the High Court in Edinburgh heard how Mortimer filmed and photographed the abuse he carried out, and was found to have 17,967 indecent images and 582 videos on his computer.

Some of the images were categorised as “level five”, which are considered the most depraved.

When his home in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, was searched by police officers, Mortimer claimed he had been researching child abuse for a college course.

He later admitted molesting the boys, who were aged between two and three at the time, and taking indecent photos of them between April last year and January.

He also pleaded guilty to possessing indecent photos of children in January and downloading the indecent material during the previous three years.

Judge Lady Stacey, who described Mortimer as “clearly a danger to children”, gave a discount of 10% on the sentence.

At the Court of Criminal Appeal, his counsel Brian McConnachie QC argued that such a low reduction in the sentence following his guilty plea was an error.

He said: “This was a case where there were potential vulnerable civilian witnesses who would have been required to give evidence had the case proceeded to trial.”

Mr McConnachie argued that the general expectation for a guilty plea at the earliest stage was a discount of a third on sentence.

The defence counsel said the sentencing judge appeared to have taken the “overwhelming” case against Mortimer into account when reducing the amount of discount.

But he argued that was now regarded as “an inappropriate matter” to take into account when fixing the amount to be cut from a sentence following a guilty plea.

Lord Mackay, sitting with Lord Philip, agreed to reduce his sentence.

July 2012

Nursery worker Alexander Mortimer jailed for sex crimes

A nursery worker has been jailed for eight years for a series of sexual offences against young boys.

Alexander Mortimer, 28, had admitted charges of assaulting the boys, taking indecent photographs of children, and possessing indecent images.

Mortimer, who lived in Rutherglen in South Lanarkshire, worked at a childcare facility in Lanarkshire.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lady Stacey told him his actions were a “gross breach of trust”.

Mortimer filmed and photographed the abuse he carried out, and was found to have 17,967 indecent images and 582 videos on his computer.

Some of the images were categorised as “level five”, which are considered the most depraved.

When his home was searched by police officers, Mortimer claimed he had been researching child abuse for a college course.

Lady Stacey imposed an extended sentence on Mortimer, which means he will be supervised for a further seven years when he is released from jail.

She said he was “clearly a danger to children” and placed him on the sex offenders register.

May 2012

South Lanarkshire nursery worker admits sex abuse of toddlers

Alexander Mortimer, 28, was convicted yesterday of carrying out the abuse of two young children who were enrolled at the South Lanarkshire Council-run nursery where he worked.

He admitted at the High Court in Glasgow to abusing his victims, aged two and four, and possessing 18,000 images of child pornography, many among the “most depraved” seen by detectives.

The paedophile is also known to have trawled through Facebook offering to babysit for children at the nursery where he worked, which cannot be named for legal reasons, since 2008.

Police are satisfied all of his victims have been identified, but have asked anyone with further information on Mortimer’s background to contact them.

Mortimer, of Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, had also asked the council about becoming an adoptive or foster parent.

He came into contact with his victims through their grandmother, who was a colleague at the nursery. He offered to help care for her daughter’s two sons but went on to abuse them during shopping trips and at a funfair at Strathclyde Country Park.

The extent of the abuse emerged when police received intelligence on his hoard of child pornography and found videos and images of a faceless man sexually assaulting the two boys.

Forensic analysis of Mortimer’s hands, including scarring and a mole, showed he was the man in the shots.

Detective Chief Inspector David Marshall, of Strathclyde Police, spoke of the agony endured by parents of children at the nursery, with many mothers removing their children when news of the investigation broke.

He said: “Mortimer consistently refused to co-operate with police, prolonging the agony for the families involved.

“We understand the anxieties of the families who have children at the nurseries and also the wider community but I would like to reassure them we are satisfied we have captured and acted on all the available evidence.

“However, we would ask anyone with further information about Mortimer to get in touch.

“We are grateful for the co-operation of the families in what was a very harrowing time for them. We hope Mortimer’s eventual admission of guilt will assist them in some way during the long and difficult process of dealing with the effects of such despicable crimes.”

Mortimer’s Facebook activities were also investigated, but no action was taken in this regard.

Mortimer admitted to the five charges relating to child abuse and pornography, which were committed between January 2009 and January this year.

Prosecutor Alison Di Rollo told how Mortimer had offered to help look after his colleague’s grandchildren after hearing how their mother was having difficulty in coping with their care.

Miss Di Rollo said the grandmother assured her daughter there would be “no problem”. Both now felt “very, angry and guilty” over the abuse.

In April last year, he began occasionally taking the children out on their own and soon after started taking indecent photos of the youngest of the pair.

The court heard how Mortimer sexually assaulted one of the children on a number of occasions, filming and photographing the abuse. He carried out a similar attack on the older youngster.

In January, computer equipment was seized and 17,967 indecent images and 582 film clips were found at the home he shared with his parents and sisters.

Mortimer said he had once carried out college work into child abuse, and may have “inadvertently” accessed certain sites. Miss Di Rollo asked the court for a risk assessment to be carried out, which could lead to an Order for Lifelong Restriction.

Mortimer was also found with almost 18,000 indecent images of children, described by police as “depraved”.

Febuary 2012

Telly giants withdraw advert featuring Rutherglen man accused of sexually abusing children

ITV this week withdrew an advert featuring a former nursery worker, from Rutherglen, facing two charges of child sex assault.

Alex Mortimer (28) made his second appearance at Glasgow Sheriff Court last Tuesday.

As news of the charges spread, angry parents last Wednesday gathered outside the Rutherglen nursery where he had worked.

They had questions for representatives of South Lanarkshire Council who sacked Mortiner once the allegations came to light.

Parents were further incensed just days later when they discovered that ITV had failed to remove adverts featuring the nursery worker.

He was one of around 100 people recruited by Tombola.co.uk to take part in adverts for the online bingo site to be screened for a few seconds before, during and at the end of the soap, Emmerdale – watched by an estimated six million viewers.

The commercial featuring Mortimer smiling and dancing was still being aired on Friday, February 24 and as late as Monday, February 27, on STV player on the internet, much to the fury of parents.

A grandmother of one of the children who attend the nursery, which cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “I am disgusted, shocked and upset after seeing that he is still on the Tombola advert during the showing of Emmerdale. I have complained to STV that we still have to watch this man. What does it take to have his face removed from our television?

“I last saw him appearing on the advert on Friday (February 24) evening. I knew it was him as I regularly collect my grandchild from the nursery where he was employed. I and other parents are angry that this man should still be on this advert despite our complaints.”

Another mum said: “As soon as he’s been charged he shouldn’t be appearing on national telly dancing about. At the end of the day you’ve got the sensitivity of parents to consider.”

A spokesperson for ITV – who removed the advert after the Reformer complained on parents’ behalf – said: “The Tombola Emmerdale sponsorship idents are fully compliant with Ofcom regulations. However, given the active legal proceedings which have now come to light, ITV and Tombola have taken the decision to suspend the versions featuring this individual across ITV Platforms.”

Tombola declined to comment on the situation.

Mortimer appeared at court following a large-scale police operation.

He has also been charged with possessing indecent photos of a child plus two counts of taking an indecent photo of a child, and a further two of failing to comply with bail conditions.

Mortimer, who lives at a Rutherglen address, featured in the Reformer in December, 2009, after appearing on national television in the adverts.

He told the Reformer at the time: “I’m sure some of my friends don’t actually believe I’m going to be part of Emmerdale, so I can’t wait to see their faces when I crop up on television.”

Rutherglen MSP James Kelly said: “I understand the anxiety of parents on this issue and I welcome the fact the advert has been withdrawn.”