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Man downloaded abuse images 'to help Madeleine McCann inquiry'

David Brinkman was found with 700 images and more than 80 videos.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court

A man who downloaded hundreds of child abuse images and videos as part of a "one man crusade" to find missing Madeleine McCann has avoided a jail sentence.

David Brinkman, 68, was previously warned he could face jail after admitting trawling through hundreds of indecent images and videos of children when he appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

He admitted downloading nearly 700 images and more than 80 videos claiming he suspected the missing child had been abducted into a paedophile ring.

However he was nearly allowed to walk free on Wednesday due to a Crown blunder.

No representative of the Crown turned up at the morning sentencing which meant the case could have fallen through at the final hurdle.

However a fiscal depute was found later in the day and Brinkman was duly sentenced.

Sheriff Napier said he was satisfied he could impose a community payback order, with 200 hours unpaid work in the community and a three-year supervision requirement.

Brinkman was also placed on the sex offenders register for three years.

The qualified engineer said he scoured the material to try and spot a child that shared the young girl's distinct eye defect, while he also "bartered" with other perverts online to exchange more indecent material.

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Sentencing at Aberdeen Sheriff Court had been deferred for the preparation of a psychology report.

It was ordered by sheriff Graeme Napier to determine if Brinkman posed a risk to children and to give an insight into his obsession with the case.

The report said Brinkman was not a "sexual deviant" but that he showed some "cognitive impairment".

No "special" risk to children had been identified by the psychologist but it was reported that further assessment may be needed in the future.

Sheriff Napier said: "This is one of the more unusual cases of this type that I've had to deal with.

"From the reports available it appears that you do not pose a significant risk to children.

"Having considered all of the reports I'm satisfied that I can deal with you by way of a community payback order.

"This is a serious offence which could have justified a custodial sentence."

Madeleine disappeared from an apartment while on holiday with her parents in Portugal eight years ago, sparking one of the biggest missing persons investigation in decades.

Mr Monro said Brinkman became determined to solve the mystery after reading a book by Madeleine’s mother, Kate.

She has been hunting for her missing child with husband Gerry, originally from Glasgow, since she vanished.

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Mr Monro said previously: "He has been on this one man crusade as he is perfectly satisfied that Madeleine McCann was removed from the property in 2007 and has found her way into a paedophile ring.

"As we know Madeleine McCann has a distinct mark in her eye. He thought if he trawled through this material he might see for himself.

"He finds it sickening to look at these things but he thought that his crusade was such that he had to go through it."

Police seized a copy of the Kate McCann book from Brinkman's flat along with the indecent material.

The 694 indecent pictures and 88 clips, with a runtime of nearly five hours, were collected between April 2013 and January 2014.

Brinkman admitted having possession and taking or permitting to be taken or making photos or pseudo photos of children at his flat when he appeared in court earlier this year.

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