HMA v ANDREW McBRIDE

At the High Court in Glasgow on 14 January 2015, Lord Turnbull imposed an extended sentence on Andrew McBride of four years and five months in custody and a further three years on licence after the accused pled guilty to multiple sexually-related charges of fraud and extortion against children and young adults.

On sentencing, Lord Turnbull made the following statement in court: 

“This case serves as a warning of the risk of sexual exploitation to which teenage children can be exposed through what they might consider to be normal use of social media. It shows the ease with which young or naïve teenagers can be exploited and taken advantage of, with the result that they can come to be abused within what ought to be the safety of their own bedrooms. The parents of the many teenage victims in this case must be shocked at what befell their sons and daughters under the roofs of their own homes. 

Your conduct struck me as truly remarkable. You are an intelligent young man from a stable, generous and caring family. There is no history of anti-social conduct of any nature in your background or in that of any of your associates. Despite that, you engaged in a prolonged campaign of deceitful, manipulative and cruel behaviour designed to inflict upon other respectable youngsters the humiliation of being forced to provide you with sexual images of themselves or to engage in sexual conduct for your gratification. There is no sense in which this can be viewed as some sort of temporary deviation from the norms of your family or contemporaries.

The conduct which you engaged in endured over a period of years commencing in October 2008 and extending on until your activities were detected in the middle of 2013, although it is right to recognise that the bulk of your activities were perpetrated during the period from late 2010 onwards. By my calculations you committed offences against 42 different victims, 15 of whom were male and 27 of whom were female. They ranged in age between 13 and 20 years old.

Your technique was to acquire indecent photographs of these youngsters by trickery and then to blackmail them into providing you with other images or to engage in sexual conduct over the internet whilst you watched by web camera. In the case of at least 17 of your victims you in fact posted the images concerned on a Facebook page operated by you in a false name. 

By way of example you dominated two vulnerable young boys over a period of years forcing them to regularly perform sexual acts for you to view by web camera. You compelled a 15-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity for you to view despite her protestations about her age. You ignored the pleas of a 14-year-old boy who begged to be left alone and you continued to force him to engage in sexual conduct for you to view. 

Of particular concern to me is the fact that by the latter period of your conduct, when you were aged nearly 20 you had contact with two different 13-year-old girls. In the latter part of 2012 and into 2013 you attempted to compel one of those girls into performing sexual acts for your benefit by threatening to post an indecent image of her on your Facebook page if she did not comply.

At the tail end of 2012 you induced that other girl, whom you knew to be 13, to send you images of herself in a state of undress and then placed one of those images on your Facebook page. You initially refused to remove that picture at the young girl’s request, saying that you would only do so if she went on camera for you. You then removed the image and callously threatened to re-post it if she did not remove her clothes on camera within 10 seconds, which demand she complied with in part. You then subsequently told that young girl that you had booked a room at a hotel and that you would delete the pictures you had of her after meeting up with her for sex. 

Unsurprisingly, many of your victims were deeply upset by your conduct. Some, including some of those I have selected as examples, were distraught to the extent that they contemplated taking their own lives, as one young girl told you herself. Despite knowing that this was the impact of your conduct you continued unabated until caught. 

The various reports provided to me show that you have demonstrated little by way of insight or remorse. You pretended to Dr McPherson that you were not involved in this conduct and made the ludicrous claim to the author of the social enquiry report that you were consistently so drunk and under the influence of cannabis, in your own parents’ home, that you had no memory of any of the conduct to which you had pled guilty. You also pretended that you were suffering from a psychiatric illness which involved you being compelled to act by voices so that you might avoid responsibility for your conduct. 

Overall I am satisfied that you have been involved in an alarming and escalating level of sexual misconduct which is such as to demonstrate that you pose a threat of serious harm to the public, to the extent that the criteria for the imposition of an extended sentence are met. That threat will require to be addressed by completion of the appropriate programmed intervention courses. 

I am also satisfied that the offences to which you have pled guilty fall within the definition given in section 210A subsection 10 paragraph 28 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 and I will intimate details of your conviction to the Scottish Ministers in terms of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007. 

In all of these circumstances I intend to impose the following sentence: 

On charges 19, 44, 48, 53 and 55, all of which are statutory offences, I will admonish you. 

On the remaining 40 common law charges of extortion, fraud and attempts to commit these crimes, all of which have a significant sexual element to them, I will impose an extended sentence to run from 13 January 2015. 

The custodial term of that sentence would have been a period of five-and-a-half years imprisonment. In light of the obvious utilitarian value in your plea of guilty I will restrict that to a period of 53 months. I will also impose an extension period of a further three years.”