AN ELDERLY Dunfermline woman took an indecent photo of a little girl and sent it to her twisted lover after they fantasised about raping a child together.

Muriel Melville (73) assaulted the three-year-old by removing the child’s clothes, moving her legs apart and taking and sending pictures to Michael Leith (48), whom she had met on an online forum.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard on Tuesday that, in messages between the pair, she had mentioned her desire to abuse children and that her feelings for child sex were “very much alive in me now”.

First offender Melville, who worked as a sales assistant, admitted assaulting the child, sending grossly offensive or indecent messages, and possessing and distributing indecent photos between July 2013 and April 2014.

Leith, described as a prisoner in Perth, admitted inciting the actions of Melville.

He pleaded guilty to attempting to conspire to rape and sexually assault a young child and to take indecent photographs of her between July 2013 and July 2014.

Police Scotland welcomed the guilty pleas from Melville and Leith.

Detective Inspector June Peebles, of the Child Abuse Investigation Team in Fife, said, "Michael Leith and Muriel Melville clearly had a very warped relationship which was mainly conducted online. Melville, an elderly female, was considered to be a trusted upstanding member of the public, however, this investigation very quickly identified that she had chosen to abuse her position of trust to feed her own and Leith's sexual gratification.

"Police Scotland is committed to identifying people within our communities who prey on vulnerable children, and we will utilise all tools and resources available to protect them and prevent their abuse.

"This case should serve as a warning to those who believe they will remain undetected in the cyber world and to highlight to the wider community that abusers come in many forms."

Anyone with information about such offences being committed in the community or online should contact Police Scotland on 101 or 999 if a crime is in progress.

Alternatively, information can be given to the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. For information about how to keep your child safe online, who can help and where you can report inappropriate, illegal or indecent images involving children, visit CEOP's website