Dundee MSP Shona Robison has hit out after a man found with more than 20,000 indecent images of children was spared a jail term.
Depraved Jeffrey Underwood, 48, was sentenced to a community payback order with three years supervision and told to take part in a sex offenders group work programme.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard that the thousands of images found in Underwood’s possession depicted abuse of children as young as three and of women carrying out sex acts on animals.
As well as the community payback order, Underwood was placed on the sex offenders register for three years.
But Ms Robison says she will be asking Scotland’s chief legal officer – Lord Advocate James Wolffe – why Underwood was not locked up.
The Tele’s Our Kids Need Justice campaign is calling for new sentencing guidelines to be introduced in Scotland’s courts which would tell sheriffs and judges that they must jail anyone convicted of sex offences involving children.
Ms Robison, who has backed the campaign, said: “This is a deeply shocking case and is an example of why I have been supporting and advocating for a review of sentencing guidelines for crimes of a sexual nature involving children.
“I will be writing to the Lord Advocate and the courts to find out why such a lenient sentence has been given out for an abhorrent crime.”
Fiscal depute Nicola Gillespie said police raided Underwood’s flat in Bonnethill Court in October 2017, seizing a laptop, an external hard drive, a USB stick and a tablet. The images were possessed between March 2014 and October 2017.
Sheriff Alistair Brown said when passing sentence on Underwood: “What is described is some of the most appalling material I have ever encountered. If you look at this stuff again, if you have anything to do with it, you are going to end up in prison.”
Ms Robison raised the issue of sentencing sex offenders who target children at Holyrood with Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf and plans to take the issue further with the Scottish Sentencing Council.
More than half of offenders who have been convicted of these offences in court in Dundee this year have been given community-based sentences which have allowed them to keep their liberty.