Highlands & Islands

Man jailed over 'abhorrent' child rapes

Robert McGregor Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Robert McGregor's youngest victim was three years old

A man who filmed himself abusing children and uploaded the videos to the internet for others to view has been jailed for 10 years.

Police identified three children Robert McGregor, 36, raped from among child pornography that officers found during a search of his home in Inverness.

The identified victims were boys aged three, six and 12.

Police officers investigating the case described McGregor's actions as "abhorrent and unforgivable".

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that he had groomed and exploited children for 13 years.

Sentencing McGregor, judge Lady Carmichael said he had formed relationships with families in order to gain access to children, who he then subjected to abuse.

She said that his youngest victim was "extremely vulnerable".

The judge said that the material recovered in the case not only demonstrated what he had done but that he had persisted in it despite the obvious distress of victims.

Lady Carmichael told McGregor that she would have jailed him for 15 years but for his early guilty pleas to the catalogue of offences.

The judge also ordered that he be kept under supervision for a further five years on his release.

Lady Carmichael said she was not satisfied that the risk criteria were met for imposing a life sentence on McGregor under an Order for Lifelong Restriction.

One man in court called McGregor an "animal" as he was led off to start his sentence.

Broke down

The child abuser's home in Inverness, was raided by police in May last year and laptops and other items were seized for analysis.

Advocate depute Jo McDonald, prosecuting, said a search warrant was granted to police after intelligence was received from the National Online Child Abuse Prevention Agency.

More than 2,000 indecent photographs and 899 videos were recovered, many of which were found to contain materiel at the most extreme level of abuse.

The prosecutor told the court: "Some of the images showed children who appeared to be as young as 12 months old."

Some of the videos were found to feature McGregor raping and sexually abusing three victims who were later identified by police.

In one case, officers produced stills of a child from video footage and images were shown to a staff member at an Inverness school who identified the boy.

They traced the ex-pupil and the man broke down when they asked if he had suffered abuse from McGregor, the court heard.

McGregor had uploaded five videos to a peer to peer internet app which allowed others to view the footage of his abuse of one of his victims.

Police computer experts found that the files had been accessed by users in America, Germany and in the Czech Republic.

Image caption The High Court in Edinburgh heard that the abuse took place in the Inverness area

McGregor, a delivery driver, made an initial court appearance charged with possessing indecent images of children and was freed on bail but was then assaulted.

Following further police investigations it became possible to identify one of his victims and he appeared again in court facing further charges, including child rape. Bail was then refused by a sheriff.

McGregor subsequently pleaded guilty to six offences when he appeared at the High Court admitting three charges of raping three boys, sexually assaulting one youngster, making indecent photos of children and distributing or showing indecent photos.

His sex assaults on children spanned more than a decade between 2001 and 2014 and all the attacks occurred in the Inverness area.

His youngest identified victim was aged three.

Another boy was subjected to nearly a decade of abuse from the age of six and the third child victim was 12 when McGregor assaulted him.

'Abhorrent and unforgivable'

The child pornography offences took place between 2011 and March last year.

The advocate depute said that McGregor's offending had had a profound effect on some victims. She said that the scale and nature of his crimes has "scarred families for life".

Defence solicitor advocate John Keenan said: "On any view this is an extremely serious catalogue of offences in a variety of different ways."

Mr Keenan said that it had to be acknowledged that McGregor's crimes had had "a significant impact" especially on his two older victims. He added that "mercifully" the youngest victim appeared to have no recollection of what happened.

The defence lawyer said McGregor seemed willing to take part in programmes to address his behaviour and it was considered that if that happened it would lessen the risk he posed.

McGregor was told he would be on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

Following the sentencing, Det Insp Mark Lambley, of the National Child Abuse Investigation Unit, described McGregor's actions as "abhorrent and unforgivable".

He said: "Firstly I want to acknowledge the courage shown by the victims and their families by coming forward and then throughout this investigation, which resulted in the conviction and today's sentencing of Robert McGregor.

"Officers will continue to support the families, working alongside local partner agencies and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service."

The officer added: "Robert McGregor preyed on young children and abused the trust of the families involved through his abhorrent and unforgivable offending.

"A case this harrowing is rarely seen in Scotland and will understandably send shockwaves through our local communities.

"It is hoped, however, that today's sentencing sends out a clear message that Police Scotland will robustly and sensitively investigate all reports of sexual abuse - regardless of when the abuse took place - helping to ensure we keep everyone safe."

Andy Shanks, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Procurator Fiscal for Sexual Offences, said McGregor's offending had a "devastating impact on his victims and their families".

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