A Moray man caught with more than 250,000 indecent images of children has been jailed.
Stephen Moncrieff’s Elgin flat was raided by police in June last year after cyber-crime officers tracked his devices being used to access illicit pictures.
Yesterday, the 60-year-old was sentenced to 12 months behind bars at the town’s sheriff court after he admitted hoarding the pictures and videos on three laptops and nine memory sticks.
Sheriff Gary Aitken condemned the behaviour as providing a market to allow the continued abuse of vulnerable children across the world, and put Moncrieff on the sex offender’s register for 10 years.
He told him: “Some people foolishly assume that sitting and looking at these images on a computer somehow distances them from what’s happening.
“What you take sexual pleasure from and what you intentionally seek out is the brutalisation and abuse of real children by real people.
“It’s just the same as being in the room watching it. Frankly, it’s just the same as doing it yourself.”
After raiding the South Street property, police were directed to the hidden memory sticks by Moncrieff, which had been stashed in a phone box in a bathroom wardrobe and inside his car.
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Expert officers found 252,901 indecent videos and pictures on the devices, 2,169 of which were ranked at the most serious category A level and a further 2,807 at category B with the rest at category C.
Police found the files to be inaccessible at the time they were seized but concluded they had all been accessed and downloaded within five years.
Defence solicitor Duncan Henderson said his client had fully cooperated with police after they attended at his home – adding that the offence was a personal “tragedy” for him.
He said: “Mr Moncrieff actually went out of his way to identify the USB sticks and has assisted the police at all stages of their investigation.
“A significant number of the images had been deleted but of course were recoverable by the police. He realised the significant impact of the police arriving and realises that is entirely due to his own action.”
Moncrieff pleaded guilty to a charge of taking or permitted to be taken or making indecent photos of children between May 9, 2013 and June 8, 2018.