Edinburgh man caught with child abuse images blames Covid pandemic for crimes, court told

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Purves pleaded guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court

A former Edinburgh theatre manager who was caught in possession of a shocking collection of child abuse images has blamed the Covid 19 pandemic for his offending.

Liam Purves, 40, claims he became “vulnerable and isolated” during the lockdown period leading him to download pictures of children as young as three-years-old being sexually abused.

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Purves, who has held management positions at the Edinburgh Playhouse and The Lyceum Theatre, was found to have images of children being raped by adults held on his phone after being arrested last year.

Liam Purves outside Edinburgh Sheriff CourtLiam Purves outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court
Liam Purves outside Edinburgh Sheriff Court

Fiscal depute Chelsea Martin told the capital’s sheriff court police officers received intelligence Purves had been accessing indecent images of children and arrived with a warrant at his flat at the city’s Meadowbank.

The court heard Purves was not at home but was later traced to his current workplace with a leading hotel chain and was arrested at around 10am on March 25 last year.

A number of devices were seized from his property and Purves was said to have told officers “I have seen images but I am not into that”.

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A forensic examination of his mobile phone discovered a total of 63 images with 28 rated as Category A - the most depraved end of the scale.

Ms Martin told the court the most serious pictures showed “girls and boys aged between three and eight years old” being raped by adults while others depicted children posing sexually.

Defence agent Joseph Boyd said his client has had “a good work ethic” since leaving school and has previously been employed as a manager with the Edinburgh Playhouse, Lyceum Theatre and Dynamic Earth.

Mr Boyd said: “My client wishes to record just how sorry and extremely remorseful he is in relation to his conduct. He tells me this occurred a during a particularly vulnerable and isolated time during the Covid pandemic.”

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Sheriff Julius Komorowski said he had “various options” open to him regarding sentencing and placed Purves on the Sex Offenders Register on an interim basis. Sentence was deferred to next month for the preparation of social work reports.

Purves pleaded guilty to a charge of making indecent images of children at his home address on an occasion between May 1, 2019 and March 24 last year.

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