A musician who held almost 700 indecent images of children on a computer memory stick was warned he was facing a possible prison sentence when he appeared in court this week.
Alan Scollay, 51, had the USB stick at his home in Gott and on board the <i>MV Daggri </i>ferry from Toft to Ulsta in Yell between 3rd March and 7th June 2007.
Lerwick Sheriff Court heard that he had left it on the ferry by mistake, and it was only when a member of the ferry’s crew discovered it and looked at its contents to see if they could give any clue as to its rightful owner that the offence came to light.
Sentence on Scollay was deferred when he appeared on Wednesday, to allow for the preparation of community service and social inquiry reports. Sheriff Philip Mann also called for a psychological assessment, and Scollay was placed on the sex offenders register.
Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said that it was on the 7th of June 2007 tht an employee of the SIC-run ferry found the memory stick beneath one of the passenger seats.
He put it in his boiler suit pocket, intending later to attempt to find out who owned it and give it back to them. In the event he forgot about it, and it was only when he went to put his boiler suit in the wash some time later that he discovered it again.
“He then placed it in his computer to see if there was anything from which he could identify the owner and was horrified to see images of child pornography,” said Mr MacKenzie
The crewman took the memory stick to the police, who sent it to be forensically analysed at Northern Constabulary’s main headquarters in Inverness.
In total there were 693 images on the memory stick. Of those, 307 were images of post-pubescent children, while the remaining 386 were pre-pubescent images.
A search warrant was subsequently issued for Scollay’s home address, from where a number of items were taken.
Scollay initially denied knowing anything about the memory stick, but he later voluntarily attended the police station in Lerwick where he admitted ownership of it, and confirmed he had left it on the Yell ferry.
He told police he had gained an interest in child pornography sites and had carried on looking at them despite being disturbed by what he saw.
Scollay also denied getting any sexual gratification from what he saw, and had put the offence down to suffering from marriage problems and stress at work.
“He’d been unable to stop, although he was constantly disgusted by what he was seeing,” said Mr MacKenzie. “He expected he would default back to adult pornography in due course.”
Defence agent Tommy Allan said he would have preferred to wait for reports to be made available before addressing the court.
Deferring sentence until 22nd April, Sheriff Mann told Scollay: “This is a serious offence, but before the court can decide how to deal with it I am bound to call for reports.
“I am prepared to continue bail until the case next calls, but every sentencing option will be available to the court, and for an offence such as this it would not be uncommon for a custodial sentence to be handed down.”