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Retired social worker caught with stolen files on abused children

Anthony O'Donoghue stole confidential files relating to vulnerable children and had a haul of indecent photos.

Paisley Sheriff Court. Quality image.

A retired social worker caught with stolen case files on abused children and a haul of indecent images has avoided jail.

Anthony O'Donoghue stole confidential files, relating to vulnerable children and adults, during his 18-year career with the Social Work Department between 1988 and 2006.

His theft of the files, which dated from the 1980s and 90s, only came to light during a probe into an international paedophile ring.

O'Donoghue swiped the files from social work offices across Glasgow while working as a temporary care officer and a community work assistant.

The 62-year-old was snared by police investigating paedophile ring in March last year after arriving at his home in Renfrew to carry out a search.

Their search also unexpectedly turned up a bag and a suitcase stuffed with the confidential records, which were labeled Strathclyde Regional Council Social Work.

Among the papers was a typed letter relating to a young boy who had been spanked by his uncle, along with guidance books on sex offending and sex abuse.

Police investigated further, receiving confirmation that the files were genuine and were the property of Strathclyde Regional Council.

Officials within the Social Work Department were unaware the files, which O'Donoghue should not have had, were missing from the relevant departments.

During his employment O'Donoghue worked at Windlaw Aged Persons Home, in Castlemilk, in Glasgow's south side.

He also worked at offices in Ruchill Street, in the north of the city's Ruchill, and Dalness Street, in Tollcross, in the east end.

O'Donoghue's position within the organisation also meant he had access to other social work offices.

Police came to search O'Donoghue's home in Renfrew in the belief that he had indecent DVDs on the property.

It is thought he was identified as someone who had child porn due to purchases he made online, from the now-defunct website www.azovfilms.com.

The films were from a Canadian-based website which sold DVDs marketed as being naturist films, many of which featured underage boys. The Canadian authorities deemed the films sold by the website to be of an indecent nature.

The website was taken down and is now being investigated as part of a global probe into the sexual exploitation of children. O'Donoghue made nine purchases from AZOV films but a total of 16 DVDs were found in his tenement flat.

The DVDs were all categorised at being level one or two on the scale which is used to grade how extreme child porn is.

Most of the DVDs lasted well over an hour and showed naked boys aged between seven and 18. All but one of the DVDs were found on the floor in O'Donoghue's bedroom.

O'Donoghue was arrested over the DVDs and stolen social work files and later appeared at Paisley Sheriff Court charged with possession of indecent images and stealing the files.

He pleaded guilty to the charges earlier this year and returned to the dock on Tuesday to be sentenced.

Sheriff James Spy placed him on a probation order telling him he will be supervised by social workers for the next three years.

As part of the probation order he also has to carry out 180 hours' unpaid work, was placed on the sex offenders register for three years, and has to work with an organisation that helps sex offenders in Renfrewshire.

O'Donoghue was also banned from owning any device which can access the internet unless getting permission from his supervisors and was banned from having any contact with anyone under the age of 16.

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