Edinburgh pensioner caught with hundreds of thousands of child abuse images told to 'prepare for jail'

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A pensioner was found to have downloaded so many images and videos of children being sexually abused that police investigators were forced to give up grading them, a court was told this week.

Leslie Rutherford was found to be in possession of more than one million files - including horror images of children described as “infants” - when police raided his former home in Edinburgh.

Police Scotland officers discovered so many vile images on three hard drives they were said to have “agreed with the Crown that the Cybercrime Unit would stop grading the images after a time”.

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Rutherford, 69, was told to “prepare yourself for a custodial sentence” by a sheriff after he pleaded guilty to possessing the massive haul of images during a hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

Leslie Rutherford was found to be in possession of more than one million filesLeslie Rutherford was found to be in possession of more than one million files
Leslie Rutherford was found to be in possession of more than one million files | Alex Lawrie

Prosecutor Morgan Beattie told the court Rutherford, now of Kirkcaldy, Fife, was a registered sex offender after he was convicted of possessing more than 370,000 child abuse images in 2021.

As part of his sentence police officers were required to attend the pensioner’s home to check his electronic devices and during one visit it was found he had accessed a website named ‘Sugar Candy’.

Ms Beattie said: “On this website, the accused had viewed an image of a female, aged five or six years old, wearing swimwear and lying on a beach.

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“Given this, Mr Rutherford was cautioned and asked if there were any further indecent images of children on the computer. He replied that there wasn’t but was noted by the detectives to be visibly shaking. All electronic devices capable of accessing the internet and storing images were seized from him and his property and subsequently examined.

“During this examination so many files were identified on the devices that it was agreed with the Crown that the Cybercrime Unit would stop grading the images after a time.”

The fiscal told the court hundreds of thousands of child abuse images were discovered hidden within computer folders containing photographs of a house renovation.

Disgusting images of mainly female children were found in folders named “Little girls on the beach and pool 5” and the files were said to feature victims aged between “infant and 15-years-old”.

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Ms Beattie said there were close to one million files on the device that “the [police] database had not previously encountered and required grading” but remained uncategorised due to “time constraints”.

The fiscal added: “Across the [three] devices examined, there were still 1,554,515 media files left to be graded.”

Lawyer Yvonne McKenna, defending, told the court the offences took place around the same time of her client’s previous case in 2021 and he has been suffering from bowel and prostrate cancer.

Ms McKenna said: “I have explained to him that albeit he is securing his liberty today that doesn’t mean to say that he will not receive a custodial sentence in due course.”

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Sheriff Robert Fife placed Rutherford on the sex offenders register and deferred sentence for the preparation of social work reports to next month.

Sheriff Fife said: “As Ms McKenna correctly identifies, you should prepare yourself for a custodial sentence. All options will be available to the court, so be prepared.”

Rutherford pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images of children at his former home at Glasgow Road, Ratho Station, Edinburgh, between January 10 and September 28, 2021.