Michael Marnoch, 30, was snared by paedophile hunters and when police arrived to search his home they found a selection of indecent images of children and videos featuring a girl aged between two and three.
It was also discovered that Marnoch had entered the search terms “incest”, “pre-teens” and “babies”.
Marnoch – who initially tried to claim the phone seized by police belonged to his mother – admitted later that the phone was his.
Fiscal depute Lucy Simpson told Aberdeen Sheriff Court that a member of an online paedophile hunter group was operating a 13-year-old decoy on September 7 when she was messaged on Facebook by a user called ‘Amy Stephen’, which was operated by Marnoch.
Marnoch immediately sent a picture of a woman exposing her breasts, claiming this was a picture of herself and attempted to encourage ‘Adele’ to do likewise.
“When ‘Adele’ told the accused that she was only 13-years-old, the accused replied, ‘Age is just a number’,” Ms Simpson said.
“The accused thereafter added ‘Adele’ to a Facebook Messenger group chat where a number of sexualised messages, images and videos were being shared.
“The adult operating the decoy account for ‘Adele’ continued to receive messages from the accused over the next few days.
“He messaged her stating ‘dam your beautiful’, ‘bet you have nice boobs’ followed by ‘let’s see’.”
On September 12 the operator of the decoy account halted all communication with Marnoch and contacted the police.
Officers executed a search warrant at Marnoch’s home and seized a mobile phone, which he initially told them was his mother’s.
He also claimed the phone had a PIN number but refused to give the code.
Cybercrime analysts carried out a forensic examination, cracked the PIN code and were able to prove that Marncoh was the user of the device.
Marnoch pleaded guilty to one charge of downloading indecent images of children.
He also admitted a second charge of communicating with a child for sexual gratification, who he believed to be under 16.
Sheriff Andrew Miller told Marnoch that he had pleaded guilty to “serious offences involving multiple possession of indecent images of children”.
“The serious nature of your conduct comes from the fact that you did think you were communicating with a girl of 13 years of age,” he added.
As an alternative to a prison sentence, Sheriff Andrew Miller sentenced Marnoch to a community payback order with supervision for three years and ordered him to carry out 225 hours of unpaid work.
The sheriff also placed Marnoch, of Alexandra Terrace, Fraserburgh, on the sex offender’s register for three years.
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