Paedophile jailed for six years

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A paedophile was sentenced to six years in jail today and faces life-long supervision for a catalogue of offences against children.

Andrew Byrne, 21, preyed on 19 girls and boys across the UK during his two-year campaign of abuse.

The microbiology student, previously of Byres Road, Glasgow, sexually assaulted some victims and subjected others to indecent behaviour between September 2007 and July last year.

He had unlawful sexual intercourse with several of his young victims.

Byrne pleaded guilty to 32 charges for offences against the children he targeted over the internet.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, judge Lord Brailsford read out the long list, passing sentences for each between 16 months and six years, to run concurrently.

The punishment part was reduced from nine years because of his early cooperation, which helped police make further arrests.

Byrne, who remained seated in the dock wearing a dark suit with his hair tied in a ponytail, was told he will be added to the sex offenders register and will be supervised for the rest of his life.

The predator had submitted a letter to the judge at his last court appearance in which he accepted his "deviant sexual personality".

Reading from a risk assessment, Lord Brailsford said: "Mr Byrne can be considered as posing a risk of sexual violence."

Brian McConnachie QC, defending, previously told the court Byrne was a loner who began looking at pornography before taking an interest in child pornography, then contacting children.

He said: "He will be under supervision for the rest of his life - 60 years or more.

"That is an extremely draconian punishment and is going to have a marked effect on him for the rest of his life."

Byrne was caught as part of Operation Defender, a UK-wide investigation to snare internet paedophiles.

The inquiry, led by Central Scotland Police, began after it was discovered that a 13-year-old girl had communicated online with a number of men, including Byrne.

He pleaded guilty to the catalogue of charges at the High Court in Glasgow in February.

After that hearing, Michelle Macleod, area procurator fiscal for Central Scotland, said: "Andrew Byrne has been convicted of some of the most damaging and disturbing crimes that prosecutors ever encountered."