A Fife woman has been jailed after sexually assaulting a child and sharing images of the abuse online.
Seventy-three-year-old Muriel Melville, from Dunfermline, carried out the abuse after speaking to Michael Leith, 48, through grossly offensive chat messages.
She admitted the offences at Edinburgh High Court and was sentenced to two years and four months in prison.
Leith, from Cumbria, himself pled guilty to inciting Melville to commit the sexual offence and has been sentenced to 18 months.
Detective Inspector June Peebles, who led the Fife part of the investigation, said Leith and Melville “clearly had a very warped relationship” which was mainly conducted online.
“Melville, an elderly female, was considered to be a trusted upstanding member of the public, however, this investigation very quickly identified that she had chosen to abuse her position of trust to feed her own and Leith’s sexual gratification,” she said.
The online chat and then distribution of the images was key evidence analysed by the East Cyber Crime Hub.
Detective Inspector Brian Stuart heads up the specialist unit and said this is one of the most unusual and disturbing cases his team has investigated.
“For a female to be the main offender in a child sexual abuse inquiry is extremely rare – but this case demonstrates it does happen,” he said.
“Encouraged by Leith, Melville exploited a defenceless child and then shared the abuse online.
“Online offences are not victimless – these indecent images were of a real human being.
“We have been able to remove that child from harm and bring those involved to justice.
“In this case, the two offenders were only 120 miles apart, but wherever we find abuse is taking place, we will act.
“The web may be worldwide, but so is law enforcement and the commitment to protect vulnerable children across the globe.”
He added: “We will continue to pursue those offenders who think they can hide online.
“Police will find you, and where there is evidence to suggest involvement in child sexual exploitation you may be prosecuted.
“You could lose your family, your livelihood, your liberty.
“We will give your victims back their lives – a fair exchange in my book.”