Shelter worker had child abuse images
32-year-old charity boss said he was a‘vigilante'
230715CATS_16 An animal shelter boss caught with 500 indecent images of children claimed he was a vigilante trying to expose sexual abusers.
Adam Downs was caught red handed after police raided the home he shared with his family — on the site of the Scottish SPCA rehoming centre in Dumbarton.
The former assistant manager lost his high profile position caring for abandoned and neglected animals for the charity when he was arrested last year.
The 32-year-old went on to claim he had been going through a “vigilante phase” in an effort to track down the child abusers of a woman he knew.
But last week, Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard that the images he had been looking at some of which were in the most extreme category - described children of different nationalities and couldn’t have referred to the woman he mentioned.
Downs admitted obtaining indecent photos of children, as well as having the images in his possession between March 29, 2005 and June 13, 2016.
David McDonald, fiscal depute, told how police officers arrived at his home on the site of the centre at 7.50am on June 13 last year.
He said: “The accused was present in the locus at the time.
“A lawful search was commenced and two discs named ‘graphics new and old’ and ‘graphics disc 2’ and a mini HD camera and phone were seized for examination.
“Officers from the cyber crime unit conducted a preview examination and during the examination they found indecent images of children on the two discs.
“At 11.15am he was detained and made no reply.”
Downs was interviewed at a police station, where he told officers he had been searching for an attacker.
Mr McDonald continued: “He stated that [the woman] had been sexually abused as a child and he was seeking images of her which may have been taken by the abuser. He said he was looking for evidence which would help her case.
“He described this as a vigilante phase.
“It was put to him that the [images] had titles like 15-yearold Russian teen model and Thai teen.
“He accepted they were unlikely to be [the woman].”
Officers in the cyber crime unit examined the seized equipment and found 264 indecent images of children on the two discs, as well as a video — all classed as category C.
They found another 254 images on a storage card in the mini camera — 50 of which were of the most serious category.
There were also seven category C images discovered on the phone, but these had been deleted and were no longer accessible to Downs.
Indecent images are categorised by three levels, from A to C, with A being the most serious.
Sheriff Maxwell Hendry deferred sentencing until April 19 for a background social work report, telling Downs: “This is clearly potentially a very serious matter and I need to know as much about you as possible to select the appropriate penalty.”
Speaking last week, Mike Flynn Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent, confirmed that Downs was no longer employed by the charity.
He said that when they learned Downs had been arrested he was "immediately suspended".
Guilty Adam Downs pictured at work with kittens in the Scottish SPCA rehoming centre in Milton, Dumbarton