A north-east pervert who was snared by THREE separate online vigilante groups has admitted sending sexual images to what he thought were children.
Antony McBain was caught messaging several decoy social media accounts that were set up by the paedophile hunters to look like underage girls.
He sent them numerous sexual images, photographs and messages between October 2019 and June 2020.
Attending Aberdeen Sheriff Court, the 50-year old pleaded guilty to seven charges of sending the explicit material to what he believed at the time were 12 and 13-year-old girls.
The three online vigilante groups named were Forbidden Scotland, Innocent Voices and Our Team.
Fiscal depute Carol Gammie told the court: “The groups act as a decoy and were posing online as a young females.
“The tactics of these groups are to create a decoy Facebook account of a child between 10 and 15 years of age and to leave the account dormant until they are contacted by another person via Facebook Messenger.
“The person operating the decoy will then enter into dialogue, but will answer with bland non-compliant responses.
“They also give the age of the decoy profile at the beginning of the conversation – offering the person the opportunity to cease communication at an early stage.”
McBain, of Seaview Haven in Seaton, Aberdeen, admitted sending explicit photographs of himself to what he assumed was a child, while also sending sexual written communication and of attempting to communicate indecently with a child.
During one conversation with the decoy McBain sent explicit images along with his home address and pictures of his face.
Ms Gammie continued: “I understand there was then an incident where the vigilantes attended his address, the police were contacted and the accused was taken to Kittybrewster custody suite.
“A search was carried out at his home various electronic devices were seized.”
McBain’s defence solicitor Lynn Bentley argued that her client had “significant cognitive difficulties” and that he had been the subject of both psychiatric and psychological reports.
She also stated that McBain hadn’t received copies of the online conversations in order to form a significant defence.
“There was a psychiatric assessment that then led to a psychological assessment which confirmed insufficient cognitive ability”, Ms Bentley said.
“He also did not receive the substantial disclosure of conversations, many of which were fairly innocent and innocuous – they were almost childlike.”
Sheriff Margaret Hodge adjourned the case until next month to allow a Criminal Justice Social Work Report and a Restriction of Liberty Order assessment to be carried out.
A spokesman for one paedophile hunter group – called HOPE – who initiated a sting operation into McBain said they were “absolutely delighted” he had pleaded guilty.
He added: “Hopefully he’ll get a sentence that will deter him and others from abusing our children online.
“McBain’s chat included sending explicit pictures of himself and was prolific especially after being caught originally.
“This shows that he has no regard for children and we really hope the sentence fits the crime.”