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Ex-daily features editor spared jail over child abuse images on computer

Norman HarperA former regional daily features editor has been spared jail after dozens of child abuse images were found on his computer.

Norman Harper, formerly of Aberdeen daily the Press & Journal, has been sentenced to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work after he admitted possessing 31 indecent images of children.

Harper, 60, was also placed on the sex offenders’ register when he appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

The court heard he was snared after police received intelligence from a national child abuse prevention agency, and the images were found on his computer after it was seized in a raid on his home.

Stuart Beveridge, defending, said: “He was suffering from mental scrambling at the time of the offences as he struggled through various family crises. He does not seek to hide behind this, but that was his state of mind at the time.”

The court was also told Harper, pictured, is participating in the Stop It Now campaign run by a charity dedicated to reducing the risk of children being sexually abused.

It offers support to those seeking help for “sexual thoughts about children and young people”.

Harper, of Tullynessle, Aberdeenshire, accepted at an earlier hearing that he had made indecent images of children between 12 November and 3 December 2014, and also admitted possessing indecent images between 12 November 2014 and 20 January 2017.

Sheriff William Summers described the charges as “serious”.

He told Harper: “This is not a victimless crime because every child that appears in those images is a victim of abuse. Everyone who views those images is encouraging a vile trade in the manufacture of those images.”

Sheriff Summers ordered Harper to carry out 180 hours unpaid work in the community and placed him under social work supervision for 18 months.

His name will also be added to the sex offenders’ register for 18 months.

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