May 2011

Neil Strachan’s minimum sentence cut to nine years

A man who was part of a paedophile gang in Edinburgh has had his minimum sentence almost halved by appeal judges.

Neil Strachan, 43, is serving a life sentence for plotting with others to abuse children.

Strachan, who was convicted in 2009 of the crimes, was originally to serve a minimum of 16 years in jail before he could bid for freedom.

Now his minimum sentence has been cut to nine years.

Strachan was convicted of attempting to rape an 18-month-old boy while looking after him at Hogmanay 2005 and of downloading child pornography from websites.

His convictions included sex acts on kids aged from 18 months to six years.

However, at a previous hearing appeal judges ruled that although Strachan had swapped e-mails with co-accused James Rennie about “sharing” a baby boy, there was not enough evidence to find him guilty of a wider conspiracy.

Strachan returned to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh on Thursday knowing he would get his minimum sentence cut as a result of the previous decision.

He also stood to benefit from a recent ruling by top judges which changed the way minimum sentences are calculated for lifers other than murderers.

Lord Bonomy, sitting with Lord Kingarth, told Strachan that because one of the key charges against him had been “significantly modified” the original sentence could no longer stand.

He said that applying the new rules would lead to a further reduction.

After his trial in May 2009, judge Lord Bannatyne described Strachan as “sadistic and aggressive”.