Edinburgh crime: Serial sex offender Nathan Whitelaw jailed after discovery of thousands of child abuse images

Edinburgh man had downloaded hundreds of child abuse images and attempted to meet 13-year-old

A serial sex offender who was caught with a shocking haul of child abuse images for the second time has been jailed for 16 months. Nathan Whitelaw, also known as Salkeld, was found to have downloaded hundreds of indecent images of children when police officers checked his mobile phone earlier this year, a court heard.

Whitelaw, 24, was convicted of a similar offence last year and police were conducting an unannounced search of his Edinburgh flat when he was caught for the second time. He told the officers he had bought the device as he wanted to “test himself” due to his sexual interest in young children.

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Whitelaw was also convicted of sexual communication and attempting to meet up with a 13 year old child he had contacted online in 2018. But he was caught in a paedophile hunter sting when it emerged he had in fact been in contact with an adult decoy connected to the Groom Resisters Scotland group.

A serial Edinburgh sex offender has been jailed after being found with thousands of images of child abuse

Whitelaw was handed community payback orders on both previous occasions and placed on the Sex Offenders Register. He was back in the dock for sentencing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday (November 29) after previously admitting possessing indecent images of children between February 22 and May 10 this year

Sheriff Daniel Kelly said: “You are already on two community payback orders. The orders imposed have not prevented you from reoffending. In terms of the social work report you are at a high risk of [sexual] reconviction. That means on this occasion there is no other sentence appropriate other than custody.”

‘He wanted to test himself’

Whitelaw was jailed for 16 months and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years. He was also handed a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order which bans him from accessing any social media site without gaining prior permission.

Previously the court was told Whitelaw had been housed by Edinburgh City Council at a property in the Leith area of the capital following last year’s conviction. Police officers attended the home as part of an unannounced search and uncovered the phone which he was banned from owning on May 10 this year.

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Whitelaw was said to have appeared “nervous and agitated” to the officers and he was cautioned and charged at the time. The court heard the offender’s mobile phone was found to contain 801 images and videos rated at Category A - the most depraved end of the scale. He also possessed 172 images and videos at Category B along with a further 1445 said to be at Category C.

The court heard Whitelaw had bought the phone three months previously “in a bid to test himself” against reoffending. Solicitor Steven Donald, defending, said his client had a keen interest in computing which had led him “to go down the rabbit hole” of searching out child abuse images.

Mr Donald said Whitelaw had been making progress while on his previous community-based order “to such an extent he wanted to test himself”. The images were said to have been part of a “data dump” sent to Whitelaw by another person and all the images had been inaccessible. Mr Donald said: “There is an acceptance on his part he has an attraction [to children].”

Whitelaw pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images of children at a property at Persevere Court, Edinburgh, between February 22 and May 10 this year.

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