Sex offender asked neighbour to dump case with child abuse images
A sex offender who was being monitored by the authorities has been jailed after being caught with the largest haul of child abuse images ever seized by Fife police.
Andrew Whitelaw tried to get a neighbour to dump a briefcase containing “the worst possible images of children” and destroy the evidence.
On Thursday, he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Lord Bracadale told Whitelaw he would be supervised for two years on his release.
The judge said: “The charge to which you have pled guilty involved a very large number of images.”
Whitelaw, 68, was previously jailed for six years and ordered to be kept under supervision for a further five years after abusing eight child victims and filming the attacks.
He was released from jail in 2004 with the condition he did not associate with sex offenders or access the internet at home.
Detective Constable Jane Keay and a social worker made an unannounced visit to his home in Lochgelly, Fife, on February 9 last year.
Advocate depute Leanne Cross earlier told the court: “He was advised that they wished to check the bedroom of his house, at which he became obviously uncomfortable and informed DC Keay that she could not enter his bedroom as his bed had not been made.”
He admitted there was a computer hard drive but claimed it belonged to another sex offender and added: “It’s not pretty.”
Whitelaw said he had “checked it” and added: “There’s not anything worse than that you can find.”
He let them into the bedroom and showed them the hard drive on the floor, but was spotted trying to hide a laptop under a duvet.
An examination showed the computer equipment contained a large amount of indecent images.
Whitelaw was remanded in prison but police received information he had left a briefcase with a neighbour and was trying to get them to destroy it.
They recovered the briefcase which was found to contain 49 discs, six hard drives, two memory cards and a memory stick.
Miss Cross said examination of the computer gear took place over months and added: “This case involves the largest collection of child abuse images ever recovered by Fife Constabulary.”
The prosecutor said more than 204,000 were found with more than 6000 at the most extreme of the scale. A further 3001 video files were also found with nearly 250 of the worst kind, including children and babies being bound and raped.
She said: “The images and videos found represent the worldwide abuse of many thousands of children.”
Whitelaw previously admitted possessing and making indecent photos of children between November 2010 and February last year and attempting to pervert the course of justice in an attempt to destroy evidence linked to the offences.
Defence solicitor advocate Iain Paterson said Whitelaw was not involved in a commercial operation selling or distributing the materiel and was assessed as posing a medium risk.