NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Child porn surgeon gets community service

Douglas Harris
Image caption A jury took just over an hour to find Harris guilty

A trainee surgeon convicted of child pornography charges has been spared a prison sentence.

Douglas Harris, who worked at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, denied downloading 243 pictures from paedophile sites.

But a jury took about an hour to find the 29-year-old guilty after a trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court last month.

He was ordered to carry out 280 hours of community service and three years of probation, which the sheriff said would be more effective than a jail term.

Harris will also be on the sex offenders register for the same period.

During his trial, the court heard the trainee orthopaedic surgeon used sophisticated software to scramble file download data.

But police recovered fragments of internet chats from his computer which requested indecent images of young girls.

'Distressing' images

Harris had claimed someone else could have been responsible for downloading the images but he was convicted by a unanimous verdict.

At his sentencing, Sheriff Annella Cowan adjourned the court for 15 minutes after being shown some of the images because she found them "distressing and unpleasant".

She said: "In reaching a view on sentence, I have to put aside subjective reactions to the images found on your computer.

"Any custodial sentence would be relatively short and would not address your behaviour. A community-based sentence will have a greater punishment, deterrence and restorative effect."

Last month, NHS Grampian said it no longer employed Harris.

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