Nov 2011

Abuse ringleader James Rennie has minimum sentence cut

One of the ringleaders of Scotland’s biggest paedophile network has had his minimum prison sentence cut by four-and-a-half years by appeal judges.

James Rennie is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting a three-month-old and for conspiring to get access to children in order to abuse them.

Rennie, from Edinburgh, was ordered to serve a minimum of 13 years in jail.

Appeal judges have reduced that to a minimum of eight-and-a-half years before he can apply for parole.

Judge Lord Clarke, sitting with Lord Philip, said: “We wish to make it clear that that does not mean he will be released after that period of time.

“All that has been done is fixing the period of time that must be spent by the appellant before any consideration can be given to his release.”

Rennie was convicted in 2009 along with seven others on sex abuse charges.

Co-accused Neil Strachan from Edinburgh; Colin Slaven, from Edinburgh; Neil Campbell, John Milligan and John Murphy, 44, all from Glasgow; Ross Webber, from North Berwick in East Lothian; and Craig Boath, from Dundee, were all convicted of various offences.

At the time of sentence in October 2009, judge Lord Bannatyne said Rennie had also betrayed the trust of the parents of his victim to a “truly appalling” extent.

The judge said Rennie, a trained teacher who was found guilty of 14 charges, was at the heart of the conspiracy to abuse youngsters, and likened him to a spider weaving an electronic web to bring about his crime.

‘Greater reality’

Rennie was the chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, which offers advice to young gay and lesbian people.

The mother of the boy who Rennie sexually assaulted said: “Previously we could factor in our son being a lot older when James Rennie is released and I just think it brings it closer for the potential for him to be released.

“It brings it into a greater reality for us to have to factor in as to how we deal with that.

“Not that he will have contact with our son but the fact he potentially might be out and our son is going to be younger and more vulnerable.

“That makes it more challenging to get our head around.”

She added: “We think of our son, but these men are of great risk to the public in terms of what they have done and what they could do if they were ever released.”

The boy’s father said: “We have concerns that someone convicted of these offences will likely re-offend.

“It could be four-and-a-half-years sooner that Mr Rennie could now attempt to re-offend.

“It might be somebody else’s child.”