Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Sex offender caught by undercover police jailed for four years

Michael Finlay Image copyright Kingdom News Agency
Image caption Michael Finlay has been jailed for more than four years

An international sex offender has been jailed for more than four years after he was caught by undercover police.

Michael Finlay, 29, communicated online with two undercover police officers who he believed to be 13-year-old girls.

They also found he had been engaging with a 13-year-old girl from the US.

He pled guilty at Dundee Sheriff Court to one charge of distributing indecent images of children, two offences under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act, and one of breaching bail.

Sheriff Alastair Carmichael imposed a 45-month prison sentence on Finlay, with a further six months to be served consecutively for breaching bail.

He also placed Finlay on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

Undercover officers

The court heard that Finlay, a prisoner at HMP Perth, had been communicating between April and June 2018 with two undercover police officers who he believed to be 13-year-old girls, one who used the pseudonym Abi Myers.

Finlay then threatened the decoy with being gang raped if she did not send nude images of herself to him.

In June 2018, officers visited Finlay's home in Cowgate, Tayport, and charged him with a single sex offence. He was released from court on bail.

In September, police returned to the address and discovered "concerning" material on his phone - including child abuse images and evidence of sexualised conversations with underage girls.

They found he had been engaging with a 13-year-old girl from Wisconsin, USA.

American authorities were contacted and interviewed the girl - who said she viewed Finlay as her boyfriend and that they had swapped images and videos of each other.

She confirmed he had posed as a 17-year-old man from Scotland. Fiscal depute Stewart Duncan said the girl told police she had been "dating" Finlay since January, when he revealed he was 28.

'The definition of a predator'

"She stated she had no problem with the age difference", said Mr Duncan.

"He had started requesting nude images and she sent partial and fully nude images and videos."

Following the sentencing, Det Con Ross French, from Police Scotland, said: "Michael Finlay is the definition of a predator and he willingly and knowingly targeted young girls to exploit them for his own gratification. When the girls he abused tried to resist, Finlay used threats and intimidation to coerce them further.

"Police Scotland officers engaged with Finlay online, and were able to gather evidence that demonstrated the level of online exploitation Finlay used. This ultimately led to his conviction and sentencing.

"Through liaison with our law enforcement counterparts in the USA, the teenage girl targeted by Finlay was identified and is being supported by the relevant authorities."

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