No jail for online ‘groomer’

Stranraer Sheriff Court
Stranraer Sheriff Court

A 56 year-old man who ‘groomed’ girls online escaped a jail term when he appeared on Wednesday at Stranraer Sheriff Court.

Archibald Craig, of Bridge Street, Stranraer, was put on the sex offenders’ register for five years, was given a supervision order for three years and fined £500.

Craig returned to the dock for sentencing after pleading guilty in August to three charges of using the internet and social media to make sexual remarks to one underage girl, entice her to expose herself and to engage in a sex act.

He sent another underage girl texts of a sexually explicit nature and requested she send him pictures of her in her underwear.

He also admitted coercing another into looking at a sexual image, communicated indecently with her via social media and asked her to send him images of her naked. The offences took place between April 4, 2013 and September 26, 2014.

The court had heard at an earlier hearing that Craig had previous convictions for sexual offences.

Defence lawyer Amanda Richardson told the court the offences took place when Craig was “isolated from society” and that he was now “very remorseful” for the impact his actions had had.

Sheriff Kenneth Robb told Craig that in this day and age virtual contact was “very much the same as real contact” and he had to take into consideration the effect this could have on young girls.

Sheriff Robb said the charges were of great concern due to their serious nature but he accepted that the accused had been working with social services and this had produced a positive report which “spoke volumes” of the progress Craig had made since offending.

The sheriff added he had a duty to protect the public, but stopped short of a custodial sentence. Craig’s name will also be forwarded to the Scottish Government to prevent him from ever working with children.