July 2004

PERVERT BUS DRIVER FOUND GUILTY

A SHERIFF has heard how a school bus driver from Annan was caught up in an international dragnet for customers of a child pornographic internet site.

An investigation in the US led to the owners of the paedophile site being sent to prison and names and addresses of thousands of subscribers from this country being passed on to the authorities.

The Dumfries court heard that 39-year-old Neil Wallace, from Three Trees Road at Newbie, Annan, was traced and found to have subscribed through his credit card. He told police: “There is porn, but not child porn… I have paid for it”

But deputy procurator fiscal Pamela Rhodes said a search of his home turned up computer hard discs, CDs and photographs – including some of youngsters involved in sex acts – some estimated to be as young as ten.

In court, Wallace, who had now lost his job, admitted taking or permitting to be taken or made 2,000 indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children between February, 1999, and December 2002.

He was placed on probation for 18 months, ordered to carry out 200 hours community service and placed on the sex offenders register for 18 months.

Miss Rhodes said the images on the hard drives, discs and photographs were examined by a consultant paediatrician whose view was that at least one of the children was likely to be under 10 and others around 13 and 15.

A number of images had been copied onto CDs, some as many as up to ten times.

She added that when police searched the house, they found there were a large number of children’s toys and a bedroom decorated out as though for a child.

Wallace’s solicitor Jenny Colledge told the court that Wallace repaired computers for friends and relatives as a part-time job and spent a lot of time on the internet.

He also claimed that his “den” in which the material and computers were found was often visited by others.

He admitted paying nine dollars to view a site and accessed it out of curiosity and she said: “He simply accessed it to see what was being offered and nothing more to it than that.”

She added that as to the toys, they were cuddly toys collected by his wife and the bedroom was one which had recently been decorated.

Sheriff Kenneth Barr said it was with some hesitation that he did not impose a jail sentence.

He ordered forfeiture of the hard drives, discs and photographs.