A 32-year-old man caught out by a vigilante group telling someone he thought was a girl of 13 that he wanted to have sex with her has been given a three-year supervision order.
Neil Murray admitted sending messages of a sexual and indecent nature to someone he believed to be a girl called Beccy including a picture of his penis.
However, Selkirk Sheriff Court was told that he was really communicating with a group set up to target sexual predators via fake profiles on social media platforms.
He pleaded guilty to committing that offence at a house in Glenburn Avenue in Newtown between April and May last year.
Murray was given a three year community payback order with supervision and conduct requirements, and his name was put on the sex offenders’ register for the same period.
Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser told a previous hearing that the fake profile was set up in the name of a decoy called Beccy posing as a 13-year-old girl and included a picture consistent with someone that age.
He explained: “The accused got in touch with her by waving at this girl Beccy with a Facebook request.”
Mr Fraser said that initially his messages were harmless, and she asked how old he was, and he replied 30, prompting the decoy to claim to be 13.
They continued to exchange messages via Facebook Messenger, with Murray telling her he worked as a janitor at a local school and asking for her mobile phone number.
The fiscal said that on April 13 last year Murray made contact through WhatsApp introducing himself as Neil from Facebook.
A conversation then took place during which he said that if was ever in Hawick he would come and see her, saying that he was single and asking if she was too.
Mr Fraser said Murray was saying things such as that he wanted to join her in a bath and would wash her back.
He also told her several times that he loved her.
He asked her if she would like a serious boyfriend, prompting her to remind him that she was supposedly only 13.
Murray told her that he wanted to have sex with her and for him to show her how to have sex.
He is then said to have made a “possible arrangement” to meet, referring to it as a date and an opportunity “to go somewhere private to have sex”.
The court heard how Murray then offered to send her a picture of his penis and asked her to send a photo of herself in return.
Mr Fraser said: “He told her he would make her feel like an adult when she had sex.”
Murray then asked whether Beccy wanted to see his penis, to which she replied that it was up to him.
Mr Fraser said there were six messages about having sexual relations from Murray and a similar number from the decoy saying that she was only 13.
After his messages were brought to the attention of the police, Murray told officers: “I am guilty of doing it.”
Murray, of Roxburgh Place in Newtown, pleaded guilty to attempting to send a sexual communication to a girl aged 13.
Not-guilty pleas to three other charges including arranging to meet Beccy and another supposed underage girl called Kayla for the purpose of engaging in unlawful sexual activity were accepted by the crown.