October 2009

Abuse network ringleaders jailed

James Rennie (left) and Neil Strachan

The two men at the centre of Scotland’s largest known child abuse network have been jailed for life.

Neil Strachan, 41, attempted to rape an 18-month-old boy while 38-year-old James Rennie sexually assaulted a three-month-old.

Strachan was sentenced to a minimum of 16 years in prison, while Rennie was ordered to serve at least 13 years.

Police said the operation had led to more than 200 suspected paedophiles, 70 of them in the UK, being identified.

Six other men had already been sentenced for their involvement in the network.

Strachan and Rennie, both from Edinburgh, were also found guilty after a 10-week trial of conspiring to get access to children in order to abuse them, while Strachan was convicted of a further charge of sexually assaulting a six-year-old boy.

Strachan, who is HIV positive, has already served a three-year prison sentence in 1997 for abusing a boy. Rennie was the chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland, which offers advice to young gay and lesbian people.

Other Paedophile network members jailed

Colin Slaven, Craig Boath, John Milligan, John Murphy, Ross Webber and Neil Campbell were all sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh

Six members of Scotland’s biggest paedophile network have been jailed.

Ross Webber, Craig Boath and John Milligan were convicted last month of conspiring to sexually abuse children.

They were also convicted of making and possessing with intent to distribute indecent images of children, with Colin Slaven, John Murphy and Neil Campbell.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, they received sentences ranging from two to 17 years in jail. The judge said their crimes were of the most serious nature.

He told them: “These offences involved real children. Many of the photos involved children being sexually abused, often in the most appalling ways.

Speaking outside court, the father of one of the victims told BBC Scotland: “I think they got a sentence which reflects what they have done, they got what they deserved.

“We saw in court at least one defence of them saying they didn’t think it was real, it was just a fantasy but I simply cannot accept that.

“It happened to my son, who is a real person with a real name, real friends, real interests, real parents and a real bed that he sleeps in at night. He is a real child and the effects on those real children are extremely distressing and traumatic and in many cases will damage them for the rest of their lives.”

“These are not victimless crimes.” The men jailed were Slaven, 24, from Edinburgh; Boath, 24, from Dundee; Milligan, 40, Campbell, 46, and Murphy, 44, all from Glasgow; and Webber, 27, from North Berwick.

Civil servant Milligan received the longest custodial sentence, amounting to 17 years behind bars.

Judge Lord Bannatyne told Milligan he was “a major player” in the conspiracy.

The civil servant had also amassed 78,289 images of child pornography, with more than 10,000 graded at the worst levels of abuse.

Defence solicitor advocate Jim Stephenson, for Milligan, said the first offender had lived “a loner lifestyle” and had cut himself off from society.

Insurance worker Boath was jailed for nine years and nine months, while bank teller Webber was sentenced to eight years and nine months.

IT worker Slaven was jailed for three years, including a year for contempt of court after he turned up drunk at court towards the end of the trial.

Cake firm manager Campbell was ordered to spend three years and four months behind bars, while sauna receptionist Murphy was jailed for two years.

The network came to light after an indecent image was discovered on a computer belonging to Strachan, a registered sex offender.

Strachan was convicted of attempting to rape an 18-month-old boy in Edinburgh on New Year’s Eve in 2005.

The jury found Rennie – the former chief of LGBT Youth Scotland, an organisation which offers advice on sexuality to young people – guilty of molesting a young boy over more than four years. The child was just three months old when the abuse started.