August 2005

School library child abuse images viewer jailed

A FATHER-of-three who used a school library computer to download more than 1,000 images of child abuse images was yesterday jailed for two years.

Richard Wartnaby’s fantasies were only exposed when a pupil glanced over his shoulder and raised concerns with staff at what he had seen.

Selkirk Sheriff Court heard some of the images were at the most serious end of the scale – showing bestiality, sadomasochism and adults having sex with children.

Procurator fiscal Fiona MacDonald said that for more than a year Wartnaby had visited the library at Earlston High School in the Borders, which is open to the public, to use the internet.

She explained he would type key words into search engines. He downloaded the images on to CDs and floppy discs which he would later view.

Miss MacDonald said there were 1,055 indecent images transferred to the CDs.

She said the offences came to light when a sixth-year pupil in the library walked past Wartnaby and saw some of the images on the screen. He immediately alerted staff and an investigation was launched into what he had been accessing.

Wartnaby – who was accompanied in court by his wife, Shiela – pleaded guilty on indictment to the making of indecent photographs of children at Earlston and Galashiels public libraries between 1 March, 2004, and 8 April this year. He also admitted having the indecent photographs in his possession at his home and also at the libraries.

The defence lawyer, Mark Harrower, pleaded for Wartnaby, who is unemployed, to be spared jail, arguing he had already suffered by having to move away from the family home in Earlston and staying in homeless accommodation in Edinburgh.

He said: “He is fortunate that his wife is standing by him despite her disgust at what he has done.

“There is an element in this case that Mr Wartnaby did not realise just how serious what it was that he was doing.

“He has brought it upon himself but his case already acts as a deterrent as any right-thinking family member would think again about committing such an offence after realising what he has been through.”

But Sheriff Kevin Drummond said the fact that the downloading had been carried out in a public facility and within a school and on one occasion witnessed by a pupil aggravated the offence.

In addition to the two-year jail sentence, he ordered Wartnaby’s name to be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.