Christopher Thomson, a Scot accused of inducing a 14-year old- girl into sending him sexually explicit photographs and videos will not be extradited to the US
The US authorities requested the extradition of Mr Thomson in relation to three allegations. The first being that in 2014, he groomed a 14-year-old girl using an online video game and had induced her into sending him sexually explicit messages, photographs and videos. The second and third allegations related to the receiving and distribution of indecent images of children.
In the extradition hearing, the lawyers acting for the US Government explained that Mr Thompson befriended a 14-year-old girl online through a war-based video game and then groomed her into a cyber relationship in which she would send him sexually explicit photographs and videos. When the girl ended the relationship, Mr Thomson allegedly threatened to post the photos to her family members. The US Homeland Security agency was alerted and they traced the IP address of Mr Thomson’s computer to Scotland. Police Scotland then obtained a search warrant and seized Mr Thompson’s laptop which contained a sexually explicit video of the 14-year-old in which the girl is visibly upset and a male voice orders her to continue to perform a sexual act on herself. Mr Thomson admitted he was the man in the video and that he had threatened to send the explicit photos to the girl’s parents.
The US authorities originally requested Mr Thomson’s extradition in 2017, but Mr Thomson argued that he should be tried in Scotland with the alleged victim giving evidence by remote link. Mr Thomson’s lawyers also highlighted the difference in the length of potential maximum custodial between the two countries, namely 10 years in Scotland and 30 years in the US.
In March 2019, Mr Thomson appeared before Sheriff Frank Crowe and explained that he was a carer for his 45-year-old mother, who suffers from depression, anxiety, kidney problems and agoraphobia. The hearing also included a social services report which concluded that Mr Thompson had fluctuating mental health problems.
On 31 March 2019, Sheriff Crowe ruled that despite the severity of the allegations against Mr Thomson, his extradition to the US would not be “compatible with rights to liberty and security, a fair trial and respect for private and family life under the European Convention of Human Rights.” Sheriff Crowe added: “this does not mean that the Requested Person cannot be prosecuted for these offences.”
It is possible that Mr Thomson could be prosecuted in Scotland for the offence of causing a child to participate in sexual activity which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.