A local community leader claimed he had nothing to do with an enormous stash of images of young boys being abused found on his computer – by claiming he was straight and “had a low sex drive”.
Adrian Snowball – who was used by a Scottish Government agency as a poster boy for getting people online – was today facing jail over a haul of more than 10,000 still images and videos retrieved from his laptop and hard drives after a police raid of his home in the East Neuk of Fife.
Snowball – who serves as the chairman of East Neuk First Responders, treasurer of the Carnbee and Arncroach Community Council and was part of the area’s Development Trust – initially denied having anything to do with allegations of sex abuse images being downloaded at his home.
But when confronted by police with forensic evidence secured from his laptop he broke down and said: “It’s time to come clean.”
Snowball – a retired human resources consultant who has volunteered as a “Digital Champion” for a charity that aims to get people using computers – then branded his haul his “guilty secret”.
Fiscal depute Vicki Bell told Dundee Sheriff Court that police had received a tip off in February this year that a Hotmail address linked to Snowball had been used to upload images to a Microsoft cloud storage site.
She said: “The e-mail address was linked to the accused and on February 22 around 8am officers attended to execute a search warrant.
“They found him in the premises alone. They showed him the warrant and cautioned him. He was questioned by officers and confirmed he lived alone and that he had computers in the property.
“He said he used them for slideshows and music but denied having indecent images of children. A search commenced and items were seized.
“An initial examination a number of indecent images were found so he was detained and taken to Levenmouth police station.
“He denied ever having seen indecent images on any of his devices. He said he was a heterosexual male who had a low sex drive since an illness in 2010.
“It was explained that the devices he had admitted ownership of had undergone a forensic examination and more than 1,000 indecent images and videos had been found.
“He stated ‘it’s time to come clean’. He said he had viewed images up to around 2015 and said he knew it was wrong and had taken steps to delete them.
“He had come across a website and would download indecent images of boys. He said he had been sexually attracted to boys and called it his ‘guilty secret’.“
The court heard Snowball had 623 still images and 235 videos at category A – the highest level of depravity – along with 1270 images and 145 videos at category B and 8,603 pictures and 387 videos at category C.
Snowball, 63, of Main Road, Arncroach, Fife, pleaded guilty on indictment to possessing indecent images of children on February 22 this year.
Defence solicitor Anne Duffy said: ”The court will require reports and I ask bail is continued.”
Sheriff Alastair Carmichael deferred sentence until November 28 for social work background reports and released Snowball on bail meantime. He was also placed on the sex offenders register ahead of sentencing.
Last July – just months before the raid on his home – Snowball was hailed as a case study by government agency Digital Scotland as someone helping getting those who have never used computers online.
In a post shared by government staff on social media site LinkedIn, Snowball said: “I retired because of health reasons, and wanted to do something with my time that would keep my brain active so I began volunteering for Digital Fife Collaborative in 2012.
“I was reasonably computer literate because of my previous profession which allowed me to support groups who wanted to learn how to use a computer.
“Being online allows you to stay in touch with people including; family, friends and communities, it gives us access to information and it’s great for shopping, which is important in rural areas.
“Beginners can find the terminology of computers daunting and often fear that if they do something wrong they will break the computer but I’ve found that those I have supported have shown an increased confidence in using computers and websites.
“People looking to get online don’t even need their own computer there are local facilities including libraries that can help.”