February 2021

Greenock paedophile had toddler sexual abuse videos

A self-confessed Greenock paedophile hoarded sickening videos of child victims as young as two being subjected to horrific sexual abuse.

John McDonald had scores of readily accessible indecent films of toddlers and other children on his mobile phone when he called his sister to confess to ‘years’ of deviancy.

Ninety-two of the videos were category A material — the worst level of child sexual abuse.

McDonald had in fact downloaded thousands of indecent images to the Nokia device, analysis of the handset revealed, but the majority of them were not immediately accessible.

The 53-year-old sparked an emergency welfare call to police after declaring during the midnight conversation with his sister that he felt suicidal.

Officers who rushed to his town centre flat found the phone in a bubble wrap bag hidden within an armchair, Greenock Sheriff Court was told.

Prosecutor Claire Rowan said: “The accused contacted his sister and stated that he was a paedophile and had sexual thoughts about children.

“He said that he was suicidal and would kill himself.

“Seriously concerned, his sister contacted police as she thought that her brother was capable and in the mind-frame of carrying out the steps he’d stated.”

Fiscal depute Ms Rowan added: “Mr McDonald voluntarily stated to police that he had been downloading indecent images of children for years.

“He said that he hides his mobile phone in an armchair and he wanted to make the police aware.

“Officers retrieved a bubble wrap bag containing a black Nokia phone.”

A total of 3,306 indecent images and videos of children were found following forensic analysis of the phone.

On its SIM card were 3,192 images — 234 category A, 477 category B and 2,481 category C.

As well as the 92 readily available category A videos, there were also 20 category B and two category C films, the court was told.

Prosecutor Ms Rowan said that the age range of the children in the material was from two years to 15.

McDonald made the phone call to his sister on September 8 in 2019.

He later breached a special condition of bail prohibiting him from using or having any device capable of browsing the internet.

Police found him with a Samsung smartphone on October 29 last year.

McDonald pleaded guilty through lawyer Aidan Gallagher to indictment charges of having possession of indecent images of children and to the bail breach.

Mr Gallagher said: “I would prefer to reserve my position on mitigation until background reports are prepared, because obviously these reports will go into some detail.”

Sheriff Joseph Hughes placed McDonald on the Sex Offenders Register, with the time period of his inclusion to be set at a sentencing hearing next month.

His bail has been continued until then.