A “dangerous” predator who shared images of himself sexually abusing a child with fellow creeps online has been jailed for over three years.
John Johnstone, 43, previously admitted abusing the child over a two-year period at an address in Arbroath.
The paedophile was also caught with thousands of indecent images of children, as well as images of bestiality, Dundee Sheriff Court was told.
Johnstone was placed on the sex offenders register for life before being sentenced to 40 months in prison.
Sheriff Alastair Carmichael said: “You were a user of the dark web and employed quite sophisticated software kit to facilitate that.
“It seems to me you are a committed user and maker of indecent images of children and I see no alternative to a custodial sentence.”
Johnstone went to extreme lengths to cover up his acts, including regularly changing the SIM card in his phone and hiding devices behind the fireplace of his home.
The creep would take images of himself abusing the child while the youngster slept and uploaded them to the internet.
Fiscal depute Marie Irvine said: “He uploaded category A, B and C images to the internet and shared them with others and asked them to do the same back. He also used social media platforms to do this.”
Almost 4,600 indecent images were uncovered following a search of Johnstone’s devices.
The court heard that Johnstone was sentenced to 150 hours of unpaid work at Forfar Sheriff Court last year and placed on the sex offenders register after he admitted possessing indecent images of children.
Johnstone admitted sexually abusing the child on various occasions between January 2015 and April 2017 as well as sharing and possessing indecent images of children between January 2015 and July 29 this year.
He also admitted attempting to defeat the ends of justice between August 2019 and July 29 this year by concealing laptops and a wifi device in a compartment behind a fireplace and using five different SIM cards in order to avoid detection.
Defence solicitor Sarah Russo said Johnstone had “deep regrets” about his conduct.
He was also placed on a sexual offences prevention order for five years in addition to his prison sentence.
Following Johnstone’s conviction, detective chief inspector Richie Banks, of Police Scotland’s national child abuse investigation unit, said: “John Johnstone is a dangerous and predatory individual whose levels of hidden criminal activity over a number of years show he was not only a risk to children in Scotland, but worldwide.”
A spokesman for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Scotland said: “Johnstone went to great lengths to avoid his devastating actions being detected, which meant he was able to continue abusing this child over a period of two years for his own and others sexual gratification.
“Child abuse can have a profound and long-lasting impact on a person’s life, and so it is vital that the child in this case receives all the support and treatment needed for recovery.”
Anyone concerned about a child can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000, while Childline is there for young people on 0800 1111 or via the organisation’s website, www.childline.org.uk
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