March 2022

Paedophile jailed for 19 months

A man who searched unrelentingly for images of children who had been kidnapped, tied up and sexually abused has been jailed for 19 months.

Henry Hunter, 34, had admitted possessing indecent photos of children at an earlier appearance at Lerwick Sheriff Court, and sentence was deferred until today for background reports.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie had told the court more than 1,200 of the most serious “category A” images had been found on Hunter’s mobile phone and computer.

Mr MacKenzie said it was clear Hunter, of Hoofields, Lerwick, had a “particular predisposition for children who had been tied up”.

The court heard he used search terms such as “kidnapped little girl”.

Images found on his devices featured children aged between two and 16, many of them bound and gagged with materials such as ropes, chains or dog collars.

The children were forced to have sex with adults or each other, the court was told.

Mr MacKenzie said Hunter’s search history revealed a “disturbed mind”. He was searching the internet with “unrelenting regularity” for material to satisfy his “particular proclivities”.

He said the images he searched for involved “sadistic, sexual material of young children who had been kidnapped, bound and gagged”.

Mr MacKenzie told the court Hunter had been arrested after police, acting on intelligence he had child sex abuse material, obtained a warrant to search his Lerwick flat on 27th July last year.

Officers seized three of his devices – a mobile phone, computer tower and external hard drive. Initial searches uncovered a “significant number” of images.

Hunter was arrested and interviewed by police and made a full admission.

Mr MacKenzie said Hunter admitted to police his behaviour had been going on for a number of years and had “spiralled out of control”.

A full forensic search of his devices uncovered even more images, some of which were “particularly concerning”, and dated back as far as June 2005.

He visited one website, notorious among those investigating child pornography crimes, more than 5,000 times on his mobile phone alone.

Most visits were carried out between April and July last year but it appeared he had been accessing it since 2015.

As well as illegal images, police also found more than 4,000 “borderline” images and more than 5,000 animated drawings described as “photo realistic” which depicted children engaging in “various forms of sexual activity”.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said Hunter had co-operated with police from the start and was “very much aware of the seriousness of these offences”.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said there was a deliberate and systematic search for the images and there was no alternative to a custodial sentence.

He also placed Hunter of the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

Sheriff Cruickshank previously granted an application to forfeit his devices.