Eight appear for trial on string of paedophile charges

EIGHT men went on trial yesterday accused of belonging to a paedophile ring in central Scotland and conspiring to commit sexual offences against children.

A 44-charge indictment contained an allegation that an infant boy was sodomised, and that the act was photographed.

It was also claimed that a man watched a child being abused via a web camera, and listened on the telephone as another youngster was molested.

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The men who appeared in the dock at the High Court in Edinburgh were: Neil Strachan, 41; James Rennie, 38; Ross Webber, 27; Craig Boath, 24; Neil Campbell, 46; John Milligan, 40, Colin Slaven, 23; and John Murphy, 44.

All were charged with making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children at different addresses – Strachan and Slaven at a flat in Duff Street, Dalry, Edinburgh; Rennie at a flat in Marionville Road, Edinburgh, and premises known as LGBT Youth Scotland, Sunnyside, Edinburgh; Webber in Gilbert Avenue, North Berwick, East Lothian; Boath in Gourdie Street, Dundee; Campbell in Glendareul Avenue, Bearsden, Glasgow; Milligan in Wanlock Street, Glasgow; and Murphy in West Moreland Street, Glasgow.

Six of the group – Strachan, Rennie, Webber, Boath, Campbell and Milligan – were accused of conspiring between July 2004 and December 2007 "to meet whether by means of web cameras or other means including by telephone to participate in the commission of sexual offences … against children."

It was alleged that a particular boy, A, had been targeted from the age of one year. Strachan and Rennie were said to have used indecent behaviour towards him, and on a separate occasion, Rennie allegedly abused him while Milligan listened on the telephone and spoke to the boy, then almost three.

Rennie faced another charge of committing sodomy on an unknown boy, aged 12.

In a further incident, Milligan was claimed to have viewed by a web camera the abusing of an unknown boy, 12, by an unknown adult.

Strachan and Slaven faced a charge of sodomising a boy, B, at the flat in Duff Street, Edinburgh, on 31 December, 2005, or 1 January, 2006, when he was 18 months old.

A few days later, Strachan was alleged to have distributed a photograph of the act to Rennie.

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In a special defence of alibi to the sodomy charge, Strachan stated that he was elsewhere at the time, in a flat in Smithfield Street, Gorgie, Edinburgh.

Evidence in the trial will begin today.