A Bafta-nominated Perthshire actor has been ordered to stay away from children after a jury found him guilty of stashing a hoard of child abuse images.
Nathan McHallam, 19, was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for three years and banned from having “new intimate relationships” without telling police or social workers.
The young actor was also placed under supervision for three years and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work in the community at Perth Sheriff Court on Wednesday.
Sheriff William Wood told McHallam it was concerning that he did not recognise the abuse suffered by children in the making of the illicit material he was found with.
He said: “You were found guilty by a jury that you had possession of indecent images of children. There were 274 images, of which 151 were category A, 72 were category B and 51 were category C.
“I have no doubt they will be vile and repulsive to any right-thinking individual. That there are victims involved in the possession of such images is something you were perhaps not fully aware of.
“It struck me, from the report, that while you were seemingly ‘disgusted’ by the images you engaged in sexualised conversations with others about them.
“That might suggest you were drawn to these images to meet the needs of your own sexual pre-occupations. Those who amass these images perpetrate a global, abusive trade.”
McHallam was arrested in front of his parents after hundreds of depraved images were found on the family laptop during a raid on their home by detectives.
The screen star, who was nominated for a Scottish Bafta for his leading role in Crowman in 2016, was found guilty by a jury at the court earlier this year.
The jury took just 30 minutes to find the teenager guilty of possessing child porn at the home he shares with his parents in Bankfoot, Perthshire, in October and November 2018.
PC Tracy Marsden, 42, told the jury that she and other members of a specialist team carried out a raid on McHallam’s home at 7am on November 5 2018.
“I was part of the pro-active CID group in Dundee,” she said. “We had a warrant to search the premises for indecent images of children.
“There were three people present – the accused and his parents. We explained information had been received that there were devices with indecent images of children on them, which had been downloaded in that property.
“I think they were all quite upset, all three of them. The laptop was on a table in the living room.”
She said the images were discovered in folders which could only be accessed through McHallam’s log-in password and he was arrested and taken for interview. He said: “I don’t know how they got there.”
DC Daniel Neill, 49, of Police Scotland’s cyber-crime unit, told the court that any suggestion the actor’s laptop had been “hacked” was extremely unlikely.
He told the jury that only someone with access to McHallam’s password could have been responsible for viewing the images of children being sexually abused.
Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson said: “He said he doesn’t know how the images got to be on the profile and he hasn’t given his password to anyone. He does suggest that perhaps his account was hacked?”
DC Neill said: “The level of knowledge and skill required to carry out that action is significant. It is technically possible to hack any computer if you have the skill and ability.
“A person of that level of skill and ability is unlikely to be interested in a normal person’s laptop. They are interested in hacking things like the CIA’s system.
“They would not be so careless as to leave behind traces that anybody using the profile would see.
“The images were predominantly female children aged between six and 12 years old approximately. The user was absolutely aware of the content.”
McHallam was initially alleged to have started downloading images in 2013, when he was just 11-years-old, but the Crown amended the charge to restrict the period to less than a month during 2018.
His mother told the court that McHallam often disappeared to his room with the laptop and that she sometimes had to take it away from him late at night.
Sheriff Wood told him: “This is a serious offence. It is worth saying that not only have the jury found you guilty, but it seems to me that it would have been difficult for them to have reached any different conclusion based on the evidence.”
Sheriff Wood imposed a conduct requirement featuring numerous limitations on McHallam’s use of the internet and his interaction with others. He also ordered him to attend the Moving Forward, Making Changes course.