Judge John McCormick told Ian Heddle on Tuesday his status had changed after his guilty pleas to the court. Consequently, he was remanded in prison pending sentencing on July 9. The convicted man was also placed on the Violent and Sex Offender Register.

A former high profile Scottish footballer was jailed in Glasgow by the High Court for possession of paedophilia imagery and videos as well as the ‘contact abuse’ of an 8-year-old child in Chonburi, Thailand. The latter offence occurred over a two-week period in 2019. 61-year-old Ian Heddle was originally arrested by a Scottish police unit at Edinburgh Airport in February 2023. He was living in Thailand when the crime was committed. Later, his activities were detected by international police agencies while home in Scotland on a visit.

61-year-old Ian Heddle was convicted on Tuesday of sexual offences against a minor in Thailand in addition to possession of paedophilic images and videos. The case before the Glasgow High Court saw the former footballer who played in top Scottish teams, plead guilty. The judge ordered him taken into custody pending a sentencing hearing on July 9 next. (Source: Scottish Police, The Courier and Glasgow High Court)

A 61-year-old former Scottish footballer was jailed by the High Court in Glasgow on Tuesday. Ian Heddle had previously lived in Thailand before his surprise arrest at Edinburgh Airport by police in February 2023.

At the time of his arrest, Heddle was living in Thailand and working as a crane operator for an international firm. 

Former star footballer arrested for possible paedophilic activities in February 2023 during a visit home to Scotland from Thailand. Later released on bail

Scottish police were alerted to the activities of the paedophile by international police agencies. In turn, this was because of his online activities.

In short, the former football star who played with both St Johnstone and Dunfermline, two top teams in Scottish soccer, was arrested after being flagged as a potential paedophile. He had been on a visit back to Scotland, staying at an address he regularly used when police launched an operation to detain him.

This was on February 23, 2023.

Afterwards, he was taken into custody again and on Tuesday, prosecutor Tina Brown admitted he ‘spoke freely’ with police investigators. In summary, he admitted that he collected pornographic images and videos of young children.

Subsequently, police recovered 272,936 obscene images in addition to 4,001 video clips from Heddle’s hard drive. These were carefully archived in folders by the former football star.

Police with the elite Child Abuse Unit subsequently discovered three videos showing the ‘contact abuse’ of an 8-year-old Thai girl living in Chonburi

However, police with the Child Abuse Investigations Unit soon discovered videos in the memory of the suspect’s iPhone 12.

In brief, this showed ‘contact abuse’ with an 8-year-old girl. Investigators afterwards confirmed that this activity took place in Chonburi, Thailand.

In the three separate videos, the accused can be seen abusing a sleeping child.

His face was not visible, but police identified him from his fingers.

These were gnarled, chubby, and had a distinctive wedding ring. Certainly, during interrogation by police, the suspect admitted to the offence. He confirmed that this activity took place from September 26th to October 12th, 2019.

In his younger years in the 1980s and 1990s, Ian Heddle played for Dunfermline or ‘The Pars’ before transferring to St Johnstone in Perth. Scored on his debut

Ian Heddle played as a midfielder for Dunfermline, or The Pars, during a successful football career that spanned the 1980s and 1990s.

In short, it saw him transferred to St Johnstone for £50,000. Notably, Heddle scored on his debut for the Perth side.

Before the Glasgow High Court on Tuesday, Heddle pleaded guilty. His barrister, Brian McConnachie, pointed this out to the court.

He said his client had ‘from the very outset’ fully cooperated with the police. Undoubtedly, the defendant was determined that ‘come what may, there would not be a trial.’

Before this, the court heard that police had spent time looking for Heddle last year. 

Arrested again in September 2023 in Dunfermline and questioned by police about the iPhone videos. This led to a new charge of sexual assault on the Thai minor

Essentially, this came after the court released him on bail. At the same time, he was ordered not to leave Scotland.

Police had an address in Fife on record for him. However, they later located him in Dunfermline, his hometown. He was found working there as a street cleaner.

Afterwards, he was arrested again and charged with the sexual assault of the eight-year-old girl.

On Tuesday, Judge John McCormick remanded Heddle in custody. ‘Your status has now changed and you will be remanded in custody,’ the prisoner was told. He will be sentenced on July 9. 

At the same time, Heddle was placed on the sex offenders list. This is the notorious Violent and Sex Offender Register (ViSOR). The register was established under the  Sexual Offences Act 2003. 

A 57-year-old UK paedophile may have offended in Thailand as a judge jails him until he is 90 years old
Aussie with Thai wife arrested in Chachoengsao on sex abuse of a minor charge in New South Wales

In the aftermath of the conviction and jailing of the accused, Detective Inspector Andrew Ure addressed reporters.

He warned that under new laws, anyone perpetrating offences against young children faces detection and prosecution by the police. It doesn’t matter where this happens, whether it is in the United Kingdom or Thailand.

Sexual predators particularly those targeting minors anywhere in the world warned that nowhere is safe for them as Scottish police point to new UK laws

‘We understand how distressing this has been for the girl and her family. We hope that the knowledge that he has now pled guilty will at least provide some comfort to them,’ he said.

‘Police Scotland is committed to protecting children and were able to pursue Heddle under legislation which protects children anywhere in the world from sexual abuse by British nationals.’

At the same time, he also used the occasion to urge any potential victims of such people to report the matter to police hotlines.

‘We will continue to relentlessly pursue and proactively investigate individuals who carry out these heinous crimes. I would also like to reassure our communities that we will investigate all reports of sexual abuse. You will be listened to, and we will support you.’

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Further reading:

57-year-old UK paedophile may have offended in Thailand as judge jails him until he is 90 years old

Police warn foreign fugitives Thailand is no longer a safe haven after Pattaya arrest of UK paedophile

Thailand tightens screening of foreign English teachers following paedophile arrest

Aussie with Thai wife arrested in Chachoengsao on sex abuse of a minor charge in New South Wales

Woman files false rape complaint against a local trader in Chonburi to get a free virus infection test

Australian man jailed for sexually abusing Thai children shows the depravity that authorities must tackle

Thailand tightens screening of foreign English teachers following paedophile arrest

It’s a hard station for Thai police and foreigners should understand better the job they do to keep order

Police looking at date rape theory in the probe into the death of 25-year-old Thai woman found in Thonburi

Calls to legalise prostitution in Thailand after Pattaya sex raid on Walking Street this week