Psychiatric reports have been ordered on a middle-aged Borderer after he admitted engaging in indecent online communications with someone claiming to be a child.
Peter Mulvey, of Galashiels, pleaded guilty to that charge in April and was due to be sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today.
However, sheriff Alison Stirling deemed there to be a need for further background reports and deferred sentencing him for another month.
Mulvey, 41, first appeared in court in December after being caught in an online sting at Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool staged by a group set up to name and shame alleged sex offenders.
In February, he denied the charges, brought under section 34 of the 2009 Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act, but he changed his plea to guilty before a scheduled trial in April.
Today, the court heard Mulvey sent multiple messages to someone he thought was a young girl.
Sheriff Stirling said: “It’s the same message again and again and again.
“It seems to me that it is almost as if he has got certain buttons that he presses.
“It’s the same thing which is repeated and repeated and repeated again in the messages.
“I am guessing he has not just typed that over again every time.”
She added that the competency of the charges against Mulvey had previously been questioned due to Mulvey “belatedly understanding that he was being duped”.
Mulvey’s defence lawyer, Robert More, confirmed no psychiatric assessment has yet been carried out and suggested a programme of rehabilitation could be attempted.
“It seems to me that a suggestion of autism or something along that spectrum is in keeping with what I have read in this case and with my dealings with the accused,” Mr More said.
Both the sheriff and Mr More agreed that background reports previously prepared by social workers were ambiguous.
Sheriff Stirling added: “Considering this case, a community payback order under supervision might be an option, and a restriction-of-liberty order is also open to me, but I have concerns about requests for a psychiatric assessment.
“I would have thought an assessment to see whether we can consider a programme would have been done automatically.
“We are a long way off sentencing with this case, which is unfortunate.”
Members of an organisation called Wolf Pack Hunters UK targeted Mulvey in an online confrontation live-streamed on its Facebook page in December, and the 23-minute video has since been viewed more than 93,000 times.
The vigilante group claims to expose alleged sex offenders by posing as children to act as decoys to lure people into meeting them and then films such encounters and shares them online with its 98,000 followers.
Sentence was deferred until Thursday, June 26, at the Edinburgh court.