Leon L. Laudie – Repeat Sex Offender – Multi-convictions


A 47-year-old twice convicted sex offender could have two separate trials for some of the 31 felony counts he has been charged with.

Leon L. Laudie, W3790 Bray Road, Elkhorn, has been charged with sexual assault of a child, 20 counts of possession of child pornography and 10 counts of being a registered sex offender intentionally photographing a minor.

If Laudie is convicted of the assault count, he will automatically receive a life sentence.

Laudie is accused of assaulting a 4-year-old girl in July 2008 in the town of Bloomfield. He is also accused of photographing the incident, which is where the child pornography charges stem from.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

Child porn victim faces defendants

Courtroom to courtroom she walked, a young woman clutching a paper that held her message of anger, hurt and sorrow.

Without a tear or the hint of an emotional breakdown, she clearly and forcefully spoke her written words to five convicted child pornographers, men who listened with downcast eyes or vacant stares.

“They are being entertained by my pain and my shame,” she told federal judges Monday in three different Fresno courtrooms. “It feels like I am being raped by each and every one of them.”

Each year, thousands of people — almost always men — are convicted on child pornography charges. Rarely, however, do authorities know the real people who are featured in the photographs and videos that, thanks to the Internet, are traded by pedophiles around the world.

This woman is different. Investigators were able to identify her.

And now — in what appears to be an emerging legal trend at the federal level — she is seeking restitution from the men who, when arrested, had videos featuring her.

The woman Monday addressed five of the six men she is seeking restitution from. A decision on restitution was rendered in only one case.

Among those she faced was Raymond Ferenci, 52, the longtime director of Tulare Western High School’s marching band. Ferenci was sentenced Monday to 6 1/2 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii.

Not present was Terry Zane, 58, a former Fresno Unified School District music teacher, although Zane’s attorney was present. In March, Zane was given the same sentence as Ferenci. Both men — along with two other men — will return to federal court next month for a hearing on the woman’s restitution claim.

Prosecutor David Gappa said the woman is one of two victims who have filed restitution claims in U.S. District Court in Fresno. He is not sure why the trend is emerging now.

“I think it’s just taken awhile for them to learn about the process and realize the possibility of filing a claim,” Gappa said.

He said the restitution sought is for costs associated with past, current and future counseling.

In an unrelated case, a Connecticut federal judge this year ordered a man convicted of possessing and distributing child pornography to pay about $200,000 in restitution to a woman who was photographed being sexually abused as a child.

Now 19, the Washington state resident who spoke Monday in Fresno’s federal courthouse was 10 and 11 when her father fondled her and later had oral and anal sex with her for his own gratification. Her name was not revealed in court.

He recorded the incidents, and then sent out the videos over the Internet, where they spread far and wide among traders in child pornography. It wasn’t until she was 17 that she found out her father had gone online and traded videos of her.

“They don’t know me, but they’ve seen every part of my body,” the woman said in court. “They are trading my trauma around like treats at a party.”

The woman’s mother also testified, saying “the sadness this brings me is unending.”

Her former husband began abusing their daughter in 2000, but it wasn’t until several years later that she told her mother. The TV show “America’s Most Wanted” later ran two shows about the case.

The father, however, fled the United States in 2006. He was later arrested in Hong Kong and eventually sentenced to 50 years in federal prison.

His daughter’s first stop Monday was in U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill’s courtroom, where she read a statement at 22-year-old Fresno resident Ryan Christopher Lynn’s sentencing hearing.

O’Neill sentenced Lynn — who had been found guilty in an earlier jury trial — to 171/2 years in prison for trafficking in child pornography. O’Neill said Lynn showed “staggering immaturity.”

He set a hearing for next month on the woman’s restitution claim.

The judge then turned his attention to the woman, telling her she should not let herself be “dragged down by indecent people. … You need to move past that speed bump that seems like a brick wall … because you did nothing wrong.”

Already, she had told O’Neill that she lives in a constant state of paranoia, wondering whether men she sees in the grocery store have seen the video of her.

She also said she feels like she is being stalked because men have tried to track her down through friends’ MySpace pages, and a video of her appearance on “America’s Most Wanted” — in which she was much older — was featured in a compilation video traded by child pornographers. Lynn possessed that video as well, authorities said.

After addressing the multiple defendants in Ishii’s courtroom, the woman ended her day inWanger’s courtroom, where 40-year-old Robert Thompson of Exeter was sentenced to 10 years and 1 month in federal prison.

Wanger, however, denied the $150,000 restitution request because he said Thompson had no assets and no prospect of ever being able to pay the money.

After the woman addressed the court, Wanger turned to Thompson: “In every case,” the judge said, “these are real human beings.”

Published in: on June 16, 2009 at 8:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Samuel Huffer – Registered Sex Offender – Directing "Annie"


FREDERICK, MD – A summer production of “Annie” is getting a lot of fanfare – not because of the talent, but because of the play’s director. Turns out he’s a convicted sex offender.

The director, Samuel Huffer, spent 21 months in federal prison for possessing child pornography. He had worked as a drama teacher in Walkersville, but when officials raided his home in 2001, State’s Attorney Charlie Smith says they found pornographic tapes of boys.

“A leopard doesn’t change their spots,” Smith said. “I would think that there should be a moral obligation on these types of programs to notify parents.”

The play is put on by the Frederick Town Players. The community organization didn’t notify parent’s until three weeks into rehearsals.

“I don’t think Sam will harm a child. He certainly was convicted of a serious crime, he served prison time, and fulfilled his probation,” said Rick Weldon, who plays Daddy Warbucks.

There are about 50 people in the cast, and half of them are children. Weldon says Huffer is an exceptional director and the children are not in danger.

He added, “I would never put my personal reputation on the line to be involved in a production that I thought children were going to be at risk. I just wouldn’t have done it.”

Huffer has completed his three years of supervised probation. The State’s Attorney says he is not breaking the law by directing plays.

Joseph Lewis Smith – Facing charges for child molestation – he had child porn too – DUH!

A San Carlos Park man awaiting a state trial for alleged child molestation is now facing federal child pornography charges.

U.S. Marshals nabbed Joseph Lewis Smith, 39, of 18562 Zinnia Road, on Friday, following a Wednesday indictment. Smith is charged with one count of possession of child pornography and one count of receiving images from across state lines.

“I can tell you it’s some of the worst child pornography I’ve ever heard of,” Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Malloy said of the case.

At the time of his arrest, Smith was awaiting trial in state court on a felony molestation charge from February. Accused of molesting a girl in his care under the age of 12, he was released on bond the day after his arrest.

With Friday’s arrest, Smith is now back in jail and scheduled for arraignment before a federal judge on Wednesday. A detention hearing at the same time will determine whether he stays in jail or is released.

Malloy said Lee County deputies notified FBI agents about the images during the Sheriff’s Office investigation. Deputies searched Smith’s house at one point, according to the arrest report from February.

According to his federal indictment, Smith received the images from as far back as January 2005. Malloy said they were especially graphic and involved young children.

“Sometimes people think this could be a mistake or a pop-up,” he said. “These are thousands of images.”

The indictment calls for the forfeiture of two computers and a USB drive at Smith’s home.

Smith’s February arrest followed accusations by the child, who was occasionally placed in Smith’s care by her mother. The child told investigators that Smith had her undress to her underware, and that he would massage and touch her buttocks and vagina with his hands and with a vibrator.

As part of Smith’s release, he was told to have no contact with the victim, through e-mail or texting, and he wasn’t allowed within 500 feet of the child’s house. He also surrendered his passport.

If convicted of the state charge, Smith faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. The two federal counts carry a maximum 15 years in federal prison.

Julie M. Carr – Female Pedophile – Sexually abused child on webcam


A mother of four young children in Maine was charged Monday with gross sexual assault after British investigators more than 3,000 miles away used the Internet to allegedly catch her in the act of Webcasting a sexual assault of her young child.

Julie M. Carr, 30, of Mars Hill, Maine, was arrested at about 11 p.m. Friday. Her four children — believed to range from 18 months to 5 years old — were taken into protective custody.

The Child Exploitation Investigation Team of England’s West Midlands Police said their unit received information late Thursday that a local man was using the Internet to show inappropriate material of children. An unidentified 18-year-old man was later arrested in Walsall, England.

A day later, on Friday, additional information was obtained by investigators, prompting the West Midland Police to contact officials at the Child Exploitation Online Protection and the U.S. Embassy.

“Our officers worked through the night on Thursday and Friday to ensure the identification and safety of these children across the other side of the world,” West Midlands Police Detective Chief Inspector Dave McCrone said in a statement obtained by FOXNews.com. “Many people use the Internet safely and securely; however, there are a small minority who choose to use it to commit criminality.”

“We work to make people safer, sooner. The very same technology used to commit the crime enables us to work quickly to protect those who may be vulnerable.”

Carr, who is being held on $50,000 bail on charges of gross sexual assault and felony exploitation of a child, was arraigned by videoconference before a judge on Monday. She did not enter a plea, Maine State Police Det. Sgt. John Cote told FOXNews.com.

Cote declined to identify the victim seen during the assault but said one recording was taken as recently as Wednesday.

“That’s kind of what facilitated us acting quickly on this information as we received it,” he told FOXNews.com.

Cote said it was impossible to immediately determine how many individuals viewed the material allegedly posted by Carr. He declined to discuss statements Carr may have given to investigators, but said “this type of crime” is increasingly common.

“It’s just continuing a trend that we’re seeing — an increase in this type of crime,” he said. “But as technology gets better, more units are dedicating more agents to this type of crime and are just getting better at it. It lends itself really to the prevelance of computers in our society.”

Cote, in a release issued on Saturday, said investigators were able to confirm that the woman seen in the video was Carr, and a search warrant was then secured for her home.

Attorney Jeffrey Pickering, who represented Carr during Monday’s arraignment, could not immediately be reached for comment. If convicted, Carr faces up to 20 years in prison for each charge.

Long term risks of Sexting

Skepticism among data-hungry academics has risen recently with at least two studies questioning the threat level posed by a host of Internet crimes involving children, including “sexting,” or sending nude photos to others, a practice some say is pervasive among young people.

One Utah officer with nearly a decade of experience investigating Internet crimes against children said skeptics may want to reserve their doubts.

Like the Catholic priest abuse scandal, this scandal may take years before its full breadth is known, said Capt. Rhett McQuiston, the director of Utah’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Last month, an academic from York University in Toronto compared teens sharing nude photos to games of spin-the-bottle, though he acknowledged technology poses more risks.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff fired back, saying among other things that sexting photos can find their way into collections of child pornography shared on the Internet.

“Children playing doctor or spin-the-bottle don’t risk having millions of people, including child predators, looking at their nude photos from now until the end of time,” Shurtleff said in a statement.

But when video child pornography of the most vile and explicit is just a few mouse clicks away, are child pornographers really collecting grainy cell phone self-portraits of juveniles posing in the mirror with their shirts off?

They absolutely are, McQuiston said. He admits quickly that he has only anecdotes and no data to prove his point, but he provided an “educated guess” that about 25 percent of the images contained in the task force database of known child pornography originated as sexting photos.

“It’s usually a young teenager or ‘tween’ where they’re actually taking a photo of themselves without a shirt or totally nude in the bathroom mirror with their cell phone camera. I’ve seen literally thousands of those types of images,” McQuiston said.

He said he’s seen so many of those images because they end up on the computers of people the task force arrests for possession of child porn.

Sexting is happening a thousand times a day, McQuiston said, but the only time law enforcement finds out is when either the sender or receiver disseminates the photo — often on social networking sites like My Space or Facebook. Or when some unwittingly “share” it with other Internet users on a peer-to-peer file-sharing program like those used to download MP3 music files. Limewire, Kazaa and other programs fit in this category.

“If you don’t go in and turn off your computer to share what you have, then while you’re on there downloading music, someone else is looking through all your computer files, seeing what they want. … Most people don’t know that,” McQuiston said.

“Type ‘girlfriend’ or ‘nude,’ and all of a sudden, we’re inside someone’s computer, seeing what’s saved.”

At other times, a scorned teen lover or other malefactor may purposefully disseminate a photo that was intended to be private, as was the case in a recent incident Utah’s ICAC Task Force helped investigate that concluded this week in Oregon.

In 2007, Utah’s task force learned of 42 images of suspected child pornography that an Oregon man had sent to a man in Massachusetts.

According to The Salem News, at least one of the Oregon man’s Internet girlfriend’s sexting photos were included in that collection. Among that man’s home collection of child pornography, Salem News reports, were the nude photos of two other girlfriends, one of whom held a sign next to her naked body that reads “Kyle owns this.”

Once one collector has the photo, McQuiston said, it can become a regularly traded part of larger collections of similar pictures.

Because of the hunger for fresh images, McQuiston said, collectors are always on the lookout for new files and eager to share them with others.

He worries that, as cell phones with video cameras become cheaper and more pervasive, the trend could accelerate.

Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings was an early official to say publicly that the sexting trend had not spared the Beehive State. In January 2008, he released details of the case, but not the names, involving nine Farmington Junior High students who were sharing nude photos of each other, which at that time was a felony crime.

Rawlings later advocated for changes in that law, which made sexting a misdemeanor for juveniles.

He agreed with McQuiston that the problems of sexting photos can accumulate over time. He also said teens’ lives can be negatively affected even if no child predators ever see the image.

“You go to your 20-year high school reunion and Tony still has your picture,” Rawlings said. “Even if it doesn’t get disseminated to a broader base than just a circle of friends … those kids still have it, and who knows what they’re going to do with it later in college or beyond?”

Children must be protected

Sometimes that includes protecting them from themselves

and their youthful judgments

Published in: on June 15, 2009 at 5:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Graeme Paul Hancock – Repeat Sex Offender "I can’t control myself"

A convicted sex offender wearing an electronic tag told police he could not control his sexual urges when he was caught photographing a naked child at South Bank Parklands yesterday, a court has heard.

Graeme Paul Hancock, 24, described in Brisbane Magistrates Court today as a “serious, dangerous sexual predator”, was arrested about 1.30pm while allegedly using a mobile phone camera to photograph a five year-old girl.

The girl was naked as she played on the shoreline.

It was revealed during a hearing this morning Hancock had a history of committing sexual offences against children and had served time in jail.

Since his release in February, he has been living under a supervision order at a facility at Wacol.

He was charged following his latest arrest with making child exploitation material, possessing child exploitation material and contravening a supervision order.

Sergeant Rebecca McDonald said Hancock told police he couldn’t control himself and if he saw a young girl wearing a skirt he would have to try and look up it.

Sergeant McDonald opposed his release on bail on the grounds he posed a risk of reoffending.

“It would be a great concern for him to go back out into the community and allowed to be a predator to small children.”

Duty lawyer Caroline Hunter said Hancock, who suffers from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and Aspergers syndrome, wears an ankle bracelet to allow Corrective Services officers to monitor his movements.

Ms Hunter said she understood the Wacol facility in which he lived could tighten Hancock’s supervision restrictions so that he would not be allowed out.

Magistrate Linda Bradford-Morgan adjourned the bail application in order for more information about the facility to be obtained for the court.

A decision about his release will be made on Thursday.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

Members of Scottish paedophile ring – will get out of prison one day

NEIL STRACHAN

Neil Strachan, a 41-year-old service engineer, was found guilty of eight charges after the lengthy trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

He sparked Operation Algebra when he left a computer disk with indecent images of children in the computer he put in for repair.

The technicians called in the police and detectives began the moves which would trap the gang.

It led officers to Strachan’s home in Duff Street, in the Dalry area of Edinburgh, on 9 November 2007 – a home he shared with his on-off boyfriend, Colin Slaven.

Strachan was arrested that day, and six days later Slaven was also detained.

Strachan was convicted of attempting to rape an 18-month old boy, of sexually assaulting a six year old boy, and of sexually assaulting another child.

He was also convicted of possessing, taking, distributing, and possessing with intent to distribute indecent photos of children, and of conspiring to meet other men to sexually abuse a child.

COLIN SLAVEN


Colin Slaven, a 24-year-old IT worker, was found guilty of three charges. Slaven had been Strachan’s on-off boyfriend since he was 16.

Police had seized a laptop which Slaven admitted belonged to him and which contained child pornography.

Slaven, who was once employed by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, was convicted of possessing, taking and possessing with intent to distribute indecent photos of children.

CRAIG BOATH


Insurance adjuster Craig Boath, 24, from Dundee, was convicted of six charges. He was found to have 31,385 indecent images.

They included 1,261 stills and 15 video clips graded at the most depraved end of the scale.

He was arrested on 27 March last year at his home after officers discovered e-mails between him and James Rennie sharing child pornography.

He was convicted of possessing, taking and distributing indecent photos of children, and of conspiring to meet Strachan, Rennie, Webber and Milligan to sexually abuse a child.

JAMES RENNIE


James Rennie, who was the chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland when he was caught by police, was found guilty of 14 charges.

Rennie’s emails to Strachan were traced to him by an MI5 specialist.

Rennie, 38, also from Edinburgh, was using the alias “kplover”. He told police it stood for kiddie porn lover.

Officers found images of Rennie, also a trained teacher, sexually assaulting a boy as young as three months old.

He was convicted of of sexually assaulting a child and of possessing, taking and distributing indecent photos of children.

He was also found guilty of conspiring to meet Strachan, Webber, Boath and Milligan to sexually abuse a child.

JOHN MILLIGAN


John Milligan, a 40-year-old civil servant from the Govan area of Glasgow, was found guilty of eight charges at the High Court in Edinburgh.

He was discovered to have 78,289 indecent images, including 748 stills and 141 video clips at the top end of the scale.

He was arrested on 23 May last year at his home after being traced through e-mails with Rennie.

He was convicted of conspiring to meet Strachan, Rennie, Webber and Boath to sexually abuse a child, and of possessing, taking and distributing indecent photos of children.

JOHN MURPHY


John Murphy, a trained teacher from Glasgow, was found guilty of five charges. The 44-year-old worked as a receptionist in a gay sauna.

He was found with 177 indecent images in his Govanhill flat.

He had his home searched by officers on 16 April last year after being traced through e-mails with Rennie. His computer was seized and he was arrested on 4 July last year.

Murphy was convicted of possessing, taking and distributing indecent photos of children.

ROSS WEBBER


Ross Webber, a bank worker from North Berwick in East Lothian, was found guilty of five charges. The 27-year-old had 188 indecent images on his computer.

He was arrested on 5 January last year after computer checks found he had received child pornography from Rennie.

Two computers and CDs were recovered from his home.

He was convicted of conspiring to meet Milligan, Strachan, Rennie and Boath to sexually abuse a child, and of possessing, taking and distributing indecent photos of children.

NEIL CAMPBELL

Cake firm manager Neil Campbell was found guilty of five charges. The 46-year-old church elder had 928 indecent images of children at his home in Bearsden, near Glasgow.

He was traced by computer experts to his home on 29 March last year after sharing images with Rennie.

Officers searched his home and seized a computer before Campbell, who was married, was arrested at the address two days later.

He was convicted of possessing, taking, distributing, and possessing with intent to distribute indecent photos of children.

Vanessa George – Nursery School worker – Suspected of distributing Child Pornography


Vanessa George, 39, who lives in Plymouth with her husband and two teenage daughters, was detained at home at dawn on suspicion of distributing indecent images of children.

The privately run Little Ted’s child care centre in Plymouth, where she worked for the past three years, was closed as police carried out searches.

Officers are investigating whether Mrs George took photographs of any of the children at the nursery and are trying to identify a number of youngsters in the images.

Police sources said yesterday that the pornographic pictures were “at the top end of the scale”.

One parent said it was her “worst nightmare” and said she had contacted Ofsted two months ago after her child came home from nursery in a distressed state – but did not hear back.

Faye Goodman, 23, mother of two-year-old son Ronnie, said: “A couple of times after nursery he was shaking and said he didn’t like a particular member of staff. He said ‘I don’t like her, I don’t like her’.

“I tried to get him to explain but he is only two and he can’t express himself completely. I didn’t know what to do so I contacted Ofsted about the situation but I never heard back.

“It is disgusting. It is every parent’s worst nightmare.”

It is not Ofsted’s duty to investigate allegations, however officials there admit they would be expected to pass the letter on to detectives or contact the complainant and ask her to contact her local police station.

Devon police sources said they had not received any complaints about Mrs George in the past few months, and had acted on intelligence following a raid on the home of Colin Blanchard, 38, in Manchester.

It is believed that detectives found a disk allegedly linked to Mrs George, which was passed to police in Devon on Monday night.

It is suspected that Mrs George may have sent the images on a disk to Mr Blanchard, who emailed them to others.

Chf Supt Jim Webster, of Devon and Cornwall police, said: “We are taking the matter very seriously.

“It is difficult to identify exactly who is in the images at this stage.

“The starting point of the investigation was internet based. In an investigation of this nature there is often a chain of communication and passing on of images.

“We received information yesterday about the receipt of indecent images and searches are still on going. There is naturally great concern in the community. We will make sure parents and the wider community are kept informed.”

The nursery school, which has nine staff and 64 pupils aged from two to eleven, is located within the grounds of Laira Green Primary School which has 284 pupils.

Parents dropping children at the day care unit and school were given letters from senior police explaining a staff member has been arrested yesterday.

Chrissy Goodwin, who has two children aged 10 and six at the school, said it was “disturbing”.

The unit is managed by a board of trustees and is a not for profit enterprise and serves the Laira area of Plymouth.

It was visited by Ofsted inspectors in 2007 who said: “Protecting children from harm or neglect and helping them stay safe is satisfactory. Children are cared for in a mainly safe and secure environment.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “A 38-year-old Littleborough man has been charged with possessing indecent images.

“Colin Blanchard was charged with possessing and distributing indecent images. He was due before Trafford magistrates court on Tuesday 9 June 2009.

“The charges relate to images recovered from a computer, mobile phones and other items of software.

“Following our investigation information was passed to Devon and Cornwall police who have arrested a 39-year-old woman. For more information speak to Devon and Cornwall police.”

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “Ofsted was unaware of the recent allegations about a member of staff at Little Ted’s Nursery in Plymouth which we understand has led to its immediate closure.

“We have had one recent complaint relating to the nursery. This complaint was not of a level that would require police involvement and did not relate to the content of the allegations made public today “Ofsted is investigating this matter in line with our normal procedures and it would not be appropriate to comment further until the outcomes of that investigation are complete.”

Published in: on June 14, 2009 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Scottish paedophile nets Prison time for Perverts

Top, from left: Colin Slaven, Craig Boath, James Rennie, Neil Campbell, (bottom, from left) Ross Phillip Webber, John Patrick Murphy, John Milligan and Neil Strachan, who have all been found guilty of a catalogue of child pornography and abuse charges

Six members of a paedophile gang have been sent to prison for a total of more than 40 years for conspiring to abuse children and for owning and distributing grotesque images and videos of abuse.

Police and prosecutors expressed grim satisfaction at the length of the sentences meted out to three of the men, who were found guilty of conspiracy. The verdicts in the case, which has made set a legal precedent in Scotland, and the 17-year sentence imposed on John Milligan signals a significant tightening of the law to deal with sex offenders

Milligan, a 44-year-old civil servant from Glasgow, was found with 75,289 photographs and moving images of child sex abuse, and was “at the heart of this most serious conspiracy and a very major player,” said judge Lord Bannatyne, passing sentence. Milligan’s co-conspirators, Craig Boath from Dundee and Ross Webber, from North Berwick, received sentences of nine years and nine months and eight years and nine months respectively.

“The conspiracy charge in this case accurately reflected the actions of the accused and the full extent of their criminal behaviour which went far beyond the sharing of indecent photographs” said Morag McLaughlin, area procurator fiscal for Lothian and Borders.

“The charge highlighted how these individuals connected and planned to share children for sexual gratification, the individual parts and joint parts each played in that joint venture and the common goal that they sought. The charge of conspiracy makes clear that agreeing to take part in this kind of activity is itself an offence and can be struck at by the law, even if the agreement is not followed through.”

The other men were convicted of the lesser charges of distributing, possessing and making indecent images. Neil Campbell, 46, a bell-ringer at Jordanhill parish church in Glasgow, was jailed for three years and four months. A married man, Campbell was formerly a Church of Scotland elder.

John Murphy, a receptionist at a gay sauna in Glasgow was jailed for two years, and Colin Slaven, a 24-year-old IT worker from Edinburgh was jailed for three years, a year of which was for contempt of court, after he arrived at court drunk during the trial.

The judge said all the offences were of the most serious nature, involving real children. “Many of the photographs, involved children being sexually abused, often in the most appalling ways,” said Lord Bannatyne. “These are not victimless crimes. They are real victims of these offences, namely the children who are photographed and in many of these photographs are actually being abused. In many of the photographs the children were of tender years.”

Two other members of the gang, Neil Strachan, 41, and James Rennie, 38, a senior figure in youth work in Scotland, will be sentenced in seven weeks, for conspiracy and for other serious charges including the abuse of a three-month-old baby, left in Rennie’s care by close friends who had no knowledge of his abusive activities. Both men face the prospect of life sentences.

Detective Inspector Stuart Hood, who heading the 18-month police investigation, codenamed Algebra, said yesterday’s sentences sent a clear message to other offenders that the Scottish legal system “worked very well” and would hold them to proper account.

However, beyond the sheer volume of sickening images which were seized – totalling more than 125,000 photographs and videos – and the shocking “chatlogs” which recorded brutal details of abuse in internet conversations between the men. Mr Hood said officers found other aspects of the case disturbing, notably the level of deception involved.

None of the six men had previous convictions for sex offences, and all led apparently respectable, middle-class lives. Each one was involved in the “skilled deceit” of friends and family, in a way which was profoundly disturbing, he said.

The convictions stemmed from one of the most complex investigations ever carried out by Lothian and Borders Police. The gang were traced because Strachan forgot to remove a hard drive from a broken work computer he had sent for repair. It revealed hundreds of shocking images, and a record of internet conversations and e-mail addresses. An international investigation tracked down his friends and associates, an operation which involved computer experts in America and the UK, the FBI, and a former MI5 expert in radio technology.

The investigation indentified about 200 offenders across the globe and information on around 70 other people was sent to police forces throughout the UK as a result of the inquiry.

The images which had been recovered would “repulse any reasonable human being” said Mr Hood. “As an investigator it is often difficult to reconcile why individuals resort to this abhorrent behaviour. Despite this, Algebra has taught us many lessons and we will use these to target those who seek to commit these crimes.

“Technology is advancing all the time, we will use every tool at our disposal to make sure anyone involved in this kind of activity is identified and brought to justice,” he added.

Lord Bannatyne imposed extended sentences on the men sentenced yesterday, to provide extra protection for the public. Offenders on extended sentences remain on licence for a number of years after their release and should they fail to comply with the conditions of the licence, they can be re-arrested.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte