Man arrested at UK airport on suspicion of ‘attack on young girl in Thailand’
2 mins read

Man arrested at UK airport on suspicion of ‘attack on young girl in Thailand’

Ian Heddle, 61, originally from Dunfermline but living in Thailand, played football for, among others, St Johnstone and Dunfermline Athletic in the 1980s and 1990s

Heddle found over 270,000 indecent images and videos of children

A former British footballer living in Thailand has been convicted of serious sexual offenses after he was arrested on a flight at Edinburgh Airport.

Ian Heddle pleaded guilty at the High Court in Glasgow on Tuesday to sexually assaulting a young South Asian girl. The 61-year-old, from Dunfermline, was originally arrested and charged in February 2023 in connection with possessing more than 270,000 indecent images and videos of children.

An investigation revealed that he had also sexually assaulted a girl in Thailand, believed to be around eight years old. Then, in September of the same year, he was arrested and charged with a crime, and is currently awaiting sentencing on July 9. Heddle was also placed on the sex offenders’ register.

Heddle played as a midfielder for a number of Scottish clubs in the 1980s and 1990s, including St Johnstone and Dunfermline Athletic. The court heard that Heddle was linked to viewing and uploading child abuse material from the internet, which took place at his home in Scotland during a visit from the Far East.

Prosecutor Tracey Brown told the court: “He was interviewed and spoke freely. He admitted possessing indecent images of children. He stated that there would be thousands of photos and videos on his hard drive, grouped into folders,” reports BBC News.

Investigating officers discovered three videos showing him abusing a child while she slept in Chonburi, Thailand, in 2019. The court was told “facial features” could not be identified, but Heddle was identified by the hair on his fingers and his wedding ring. “However, the hands were relatively chubby, there were hairs on the fingers, and he had a visible wedding ring on his fingers,” the prosecutor added.

Inspector Adrian Ure, from the National Child Abuse Investigation Unit, said: “We understand how distressing this has been for the girl and her family. We hope that knowing that he admitted his guilt will give them some comfort. Police Scotland is committed to protecting children and was able to prosecute Heddle under legislation that protects children around the world from sexual abuse by British citizens.

“We will continue to relentlessly pursue those who commit these heinous crimes and conduct proactive investigations. I would also like to assure our communities that we will investigate all reports of sexual abuse. You will be heard and we will support you. I would urge anyone who has been a victim of any crime of this nature to contact us on 101 or 999 in an emergency.”