Court report

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by Rory Reynolds

Over the last seven weeks at the High Court in Edinburgh, a jury has heard the prosecution case against eight men aged between 23 and 46 who  face a range of 44 charges relating to child pornography and sex abuse.

Neil Strachan, 41, from Edinburgh,  James Rennie, 38, from Edinburgh, Ross Webber, 27, from North Berwick, Colin Slaven, 23, from Edinburgh, Craig Boath,24, from Dundee,  Neil Campbell, 46, from Glasgow, John Milligan, 40, from Glasgow, John Murphy,44, from  Glasgow, are charged with possessing, making and distributing child pornography.

Six of them, Strachan, Rennie, Webber, Boath, Campbell and Milligan have been charged with conspiring to take part in the commission of sexual offences against children.

Neil Strachan and James Rennie are further accused with a serious sexual assault against a child.

Much of the case is founded on an image known as ‘The Hogmanay image.’ The image, which was apparently found on one of the accused’s computer, is said to have been traced to an email account called kplover99@hotmail.com.

Computing giant Microsoft assisted Scottish detectives who applied for a warrant from the American courts. Microsoft are said to have revealed that the author of the account was James Rennie of Edinburgh.

When questioned about the name of the account, Mr Rennie apparently told police: “It’s me trying to be witty – KP stands for kids porn.

The prosecution has alleged that the image was sent to Mr Rennie by Neil Strachan, who has denied sexually assaulting a young boy on Hogmanay 2005.

Charges of sexual assault against Colin Slaven, 23, have been dropped, but he still faces possession and distribution charges.

The offences are said to have taken place over a seven year period in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee.

The prosecution summed up their case on Friday, and the defence will put forward their case today.

The trial has had to move to the Sheriff Court in Edinburgh, to make way for Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Magrahi’s appeal, which begins today.