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Ex-prosecutor Stuart MacFarlane avoids jail term over child abuse images haul
A SHERIFF sparked fury yesterday after claiming he was powerless to jail a former prosecutor for hoarding thousands of vile child abuse images.
Stuart MacFarlane, 45, stored the files on a computer in a shed he called ‘Dad’s Den’ outside the home he shared with his wife and three young children.
Police uncovered almost 15,000 horrific pictures and 275 videos at the former fiscal’s property in December.
The ex-depute procurator fiscal quit his post in 2005 after he was allegedly caught with a prostitute. The case was dropped after MacFarlane claimed he had suffered mental problems following a tour of duty as a reservist in Iraq. He recently worked as a contractor in Afghanistan.
At Paisley Sheriff Court, Sheriff James Spy had earlier said he “must consider custody” at sentencing.
But rather than being jailed over the illegal pictures, MacFarlane was told he has to keep “a readable internet history” on his computer so it can be checked by police and social workers.
Imposing a community payback order, Sheriff Spy said he was legally bound not to jail MacFarlane because there was an alternative available. But opposition politicians and child protection charity bosses said the soft sentence gave the wrong message. Scottish Tory chief whip John Lamont said: “It seems unusual for such a serious offence not to be met with jail time. It doesn’t send a very strong message out on child pornography.”
And Anne Houston, chief executive of the charity Children 1st, said: “We have to give a clear message to children who have been abused that reassures them that what they’ve suffered is absolutely unacceptable.”
MacFarlane, of Mount Florida, Glasgow, admitted downloading the images between March and December last year. Some showed children posing alone, others showed sexual activity between children and adults, while others featured an animal.
Sheriff Spy placed him on a community payback order, telling him to complete 300 hours’ unpaid work, and ordered that he be supervised by social workers for the next three years. MacFarlane was also placed on the sex offenders register for three years.