By Rory Cassidy

A TEENAGER was charged with downloading child abuse images at the age of just NINE after being caught during a campaign to target paedophiles.

Usman Awan, who was said to have been downloading horrific abuse images when he was still a primary school pupil, came to the attention of police through Operation NOCAP (National Online Child Abuse Prevention).

Awan, now 18, was found to have downloaded pictures and videos of girls as young as five months old being abused on to his Samsung tablet.

The tablet on which he downloaded the sickening stash, which also included a six-minute-long video of an eight-year-old girl being forced to perform a sex act on a grown man, was found on his bedroom floor when police arrived to search the property.

The NOCAP campaign sees an Internet Investigations Unit proactively policing the internet to catch people involved in the sexual abuse of children and, during their probe, Awan’s online activities came to light.

Officers obtained a search warrant and went to the home he shares with his mum, dad and brothers.

They searched the property, examining all internet-enabled devices in the house, thereby placing the rest of his family under suspicion.

But their gadgets were returned to them after it emerged the only child abuse images in the property belonged to Usman, who was 17 at the time of the search.

The details emerged when he appeared in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court this week.

Awan is facing up to five years behind bars after he was charged with downloading the images between September 2008, when he was just nine years of age, and August last year but pleaded guilty to an amended charge of downloading it between February 2014, when he was 15, and August 11, 2016 - the day of the search on his home.

A second charge that he had also been in possession of child abuse images between September 2008 and August last year was dropped.

Procurator fiscal depute Alan Parfery said: “The background is that this case came to light in relation to Operation NOCAP - the National Online Child Abuse Prevention Campaign.

“Information was received by Greater Glasgow Public Protection Unit and a warrant was granted.

“Police were afforded entry to the property by the accused’s father, his mother and brothers were also there.”

The court heard that officers found a tablet and laptops sitting on his bedroom floor and searched them.

Mr Parfery added: “He confirmed only he and his younger brother accessed the devices.

“Officers from Police Scotland Cyber Crime Unit conducted a preview examination, which confirmed the presence of indecent images of children on the Samsung tablet under the log-in details of the accused.”

They found that a total of 861 illegal pictures and 41 videos had been accessed on the device.

Awan was detained and taken to be interviewed but answered “no comment” to most questions before admitting his guilt.

Mr Parfery said: “The accused indicated he had searched for indecent images of children out of curiosity.

“He said he knew it was wrong but could offer no other explanation for why he did this.”

Defence solicitor Jonathan Manson said he wanted to reserve his plea in mitigation until Awan, of Giffnock, is sentenced.

Sheriff Tom McCartney called for background reports and adjourned the case until next month.

He continued Awan’s bail, which bans him from accessing the internet, and opted not to place him on the Sex Offenders’ Register, saying he would make a decision on whether or not to do this at a later date.