Risk assessment ordered in paedophile case

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A student branded one of Scotland's most disturbing sexual predators faces a possible life sentence for a catalogue of offences against children.



Andrew Byrne, 20, admitted 32 charges related to the sexual abuse of youngsters he targeted over the internet.



The microbiology student, of Byers Road, Glasgow, preyed on 19 girls and boys across the UK during his two-year campaign of abuse.



He sexually assaulted some victims and subjected others to indecent behaviour between September 2007 and July 2009.



Byrne appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh today, where Judge Lord Brailsford ordered a risk assessment to be carried out.



Such a report is needed when a court is considering imposing an order for lifelong restriction, a form of life sentence in which a offender is supervised for life after being released.



The move today came after the court heard Byrne has been assessed as posing a high risk of reoffending.



A background report seen by the defence further raised concerns about Byrne's ability to change, the court heard.



The move by the judge to order a risk assessment means that Byrne will have to wait a number of weeks before discovering his eventual sentence. The next hearing in his case will take place in July.



Byrne was caught as part of Operation Defender, a major 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.



Byrne pleaded guilty to a string of charges at the High Court in Glasgow earlier this year.



Afterwards, 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."