Sheriff’s concern as men who admitted downloading indecent images protest their innocence

A sheriff has expressed concern after two men, who admitted downloading indecent images of children, protested their innocence.

Ian Edwards and Stephen Bone appeared in separate cases within minutes of each other at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

Sheriff Thomas Millar said he had doubts about the men complying with supervision orders given their attitude to the offences they had admitted.

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Edwards (52), Old Edinburgh Road, Viewpark, was caught with 3,351 indecent photographs and 114 video clips. He had downloaded these on to a computer at his home between December 2012 and June last year.

His solicitor said background reports indicated Edwards had shown “a level of denial” despite admitting the offence.

The lawyer added: “The social worker says this is not uncommon in an offence of this sort.

“The reports recommend a community payback order including supervision. His attitude makes that difficult and it’s recognised that, while this attitude can be broken down in the course of supervision, the order might be of limited benefit.

“This is, however, his first conviction and he is assessed as at a low risk of re-offending.”

Sheriff Thomas Millar ordered Edwards to be supervised for three years.

He must have no unsupervised contact with children under 17 without the approval of his social worker and any internet devices he has must be vetted.

In addition, he will be on the sex offenders’ register for three years.

The sheriff told Edwards: “I have concerns about whether this order will work. If you fail to comply the obvious alternative would be custody.”

Sheriff Millar then dealt with Bone (45), Gemini Grove, Holytown, who admitted downloading 26 video clips featuring child abuse at his home between November 2016 and May the following year.

He also admitted having “an extreme pornographic image depicting bestiality”.

Bone’s solicitor claimed the first offender downloaded images because he was concerned for the welfare of two young girls.

His solicitor told the court: “He fully accepts responsibility for downloading these images, but it was not for his own gratification. He tells me he was disgusted by the material. Any videos he watched were deleted straight away.

“He doesn’t feel he needs the benefit of any sexual offenders programme although he realises what he did was totally inappropriate.

“He has told me he will comply with any order.”

Sheriff Millar again expressed concern that an order would be complied with, but placed Bone under supervision for three years with the same stringent conditions regarding contact with children and internet use.

He will be on the sex offenders’ register for the same period.