Sex pest who targeted 10-year-old avoids jail

Steven McLaren
Steven McLaren

An RAF veteran who sent sexy messages to a friend’s 10-year-old daughter has avoided a jail sentence.

Steven McLaren (55) contacted the girl by Skype using a false name and asked her if she’d worn a skirt to school that day and if she’d been naughty.

The messages were found on the girl’s i-Pad by her mother - and McLaren was told by Sheriff Charles Macnair in Cupar that it was ‘extremely fortunate’ for the child that he’d been found out before he could take things further.

McLaren, of 6 Campbell Crescent, Cupar, was appearing for sentence after previously admitting sending sexual written communications to the girl on August 15 last year for the purposes of obtaining sexual gratification.

He has been given a community payback order requiring him to be supervised for three years and to attend a sex offenders’ groupwork programme, and to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work - the maximum that can be imposed.

He’s also been ordered to pay the girl £1000 in compensation and will remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register for the next 10 years. Sheriff Macnair also imposed a Sexual Offences Protection Order with strict conditions relating to Mclaren’s contact with children and his internet use.

The court had previously heard that the father of the girl - who cannot be named for legal reasons - had met the accused at RAF Leuchars and the pair had become friends and often socialised together.

McLaren was a musician and DJ and the girl’s father had asked him to sing at a family wedding.

The girl went to the wedding with her parents, and was taken aside by the accused, who said: ‘We need to stay in contact.’

The girl was also with her father when he later met the accused in a supermarket in order to pay him for singing at the wedding.

When the man turned his attention away, McLaren handed the girl a piece of paper on which was written a Skype user name of Ian Martin.

When she asked him why he called himself that, he said: ‘It doesn’t matter who I am.’

“She ultimately gave him her Skype user name,” depute fiscal Beverley Adam had told the court.

“She began to receive messages from the accused which said: ‘How was school today? What were you wearing? Were you wearing a skirt? Were you naughty at school today?’

“The girl’s mother was alerted and she saw that Ian Martin had sent a number of messages.”

When he was arrested, McLaren told police that he knew the girl was only 10 and that he shouldn’t have been talking to her. He didn’t want his wife to know.

Solicitor David Bell told the court that McLaren had served in the RAF for 37 years and had seen service in Afghanistan.

Since his last court appearance he had been ostracised in his community and at one point was suicidal.

The contact with the girl had been limited to a single day and had not been face-to-face, although he acknowledged that could have occurred and he had taken steps to address his problems.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Macnair told McLaren: “Although this offence on the face of it occurred on one occasion and the precise terms of the message could almost be open to some sort of innocent explanation, it is clear that there was no such innocent explanation.

“You certainly had not ruled out indecent conduct had you not got caught.

“It is extremely fortunate for the child that you were caught. This has had a dramatic effect on her.”