August 2019

Clydebank teen spared jail over vile child abuse images

A teenager who admitted being in possession of sickening indecent images of children has been spared prison.

Shaun Bell pleaded guilty to a charge of taking, or permitting to be taken, indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children over a two-and-a-half year spell dating back to August 2014 – when the now-convicted paedophile himself was just 13.

Bell, who only turned 18 in March, admitted a further charge of possessing indecent images of children between January 2016 and May 2017.

He also pleaded guilty to a further charge of possessing extreme pornographic images at his then home address in Crown Avenue, again between August 2014 and May 2017.

Bell appeared at Dumbarton Sheriff Court last Friday for sentencing, having entered the guilty pleas at an earlier court hearing, when background reports were ordered.

Defence lawyer Rosalyn McTaggart said Bell, who had since moved to a new address in the area, would be willing to undertake all elements of a non-custodial sentence, but admitted there was “nothing I can say” to mitigate the serious nature of the offending.

Sheriff William Gallacher said: “The extensive period, and extensive and deliberate categorisation of his behaviour, causes me concern. This was done over a significant period of time, with a significant result.

“I have concern as to how the court must mark this offending, in the public interest.”

Ms McTaggart replied: “It is being taken seriously by him, and by his family, and by the agencies equipped to enable insight and rehabilitation.

“He said he was glad he had come to the attention of the authorities and that he was going to be dealt with. That is a remarkable comment to make, and perhaps gives hope that this is a young man capable of rehabilitation, who is willing and eager to access assistance.”

Sheriff Gallacher told Bell: “I previously discussed with you the nature of the charge and the traumatic impact of the offence, which was for your gratification, on people in various parts of the world.

“That is an impact which would not exist were it not for the demand for such material.

“This is not an act without consequences for others. Those involved in the production of the material you sought out are harmed beyond measure, and this harm is created by people like you who seek this material out.

“However, I am satisfied that I do not require to send you to prison.”

Instead, Bell agreed to accept a community payback order which will see him supervised by social workers for the next three years.

He will be on the sex offenders’ register for the same length of time, and will also be required to make any internet-capable device available for inspection at any time and be barred from deleting or hiding any such device’s browsing history.

Bell was also ordered to carry out 225 hours of unpaid community work within nine months as a punishment.

As Bell left the dock, the sheriff warned him: “This is a straightforward alternative to sending you to prison, and I’ll have no hesitation in doing that if you don’t comply.”