Paedophile worked as a caretaker in West Lothian community hall

James Burns.
James Burns.

A PAEDOPHILE who worked as caretaker at a community hall used as a dance centre for young girls had images and movies of youngsters being raped and sexually abused, a court heard.

James Burns, 63, was sacked from West Lothian Council’s Bathgate Partnership Centre in West Lothian, after police raided his home and found a shocking collection of hard-core pornography.

Livingston Sheriff Court was told that Burns was caught after police raided his home and seized two Secure Digital (SD) storage cards.

They found he had saved seven video films and 10 still images of child sexual abuse on the memory cards.

Burns earlier pled guilty to possessing the indecent images at his home in West Lothian over a three-year period between 2010 and 2013.

When he appeared for sentence Kate Fabian, defending, claimed that although images had been found in his possession, the numbers involved were at the lower end of the scale for such offences.

She added: “Mr Burns had at that time come to the end of his marriage and was beginning a new relationship and seems to have turned to internet computer sites as a way to manage communication which has then led to the offending behaviour.

“He has struggled to come to terms with the motivation behind this and that’s not unusual in these types of case. A period of supervision would assist with that.”

She revealed Burns had already undergone counselling on a voluntary basis after being referred for treatment for anxiety by his former employers.

Sentence was initially deferred for a medical report to determine the first offender’s fitness to carry out unpaid work, but his GP confirmed he was able to do some types of work.

Sheriff Martin Edington said that the positive elements in Burns’ favour included the fact that he had no previous convictions, showed some insight into the offence and was said to be “disgusted and ashamed” at his own behaviour.

On the other hand, the sheriff said, he had admitted a very serious offence, at least 10 of the movies were in the worst category and the offending had continued for three years.

He told Burns: “Offences of this type show appalling exploitation of children and they require punishment, denouncement and a general deterrence. I have to say it is with considerable hesitation I agree with the submission that you don’t in fact require to go to prison today.”

He placed Burns under social work supervision for three years and banned him from accessing the internet or being in contact with children under the age of 16 without the prior permission of his supervising officer. He also ordered Burns to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the community and put his name on the sex offenders’ register for three years.