A pervert who was snared by three separate online paedophile hunter groups has been handed a supervision order.
And Aberdeen Sheriff Court was told that Antony McBain was a “victim” of the groups, and he doesn’t understand why they do what they do.
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.
The 50-year old previously pleaded guilty to seven charges of sending the explicit material to what he believed at the time were 12 and 13-year-old girls.
Sentence had been deferred for reports, but McBain has now appeared back in the dock at Aberdeen Sheriff Court to learn his fate.
Defence agent Lynn Bentley said her client had “significant cognitive difficulties” and that he had been the subject of both psychiatric and psychological reports.
She said: “He thought he was communicating with children, and the children’s ages are referred to, and that’s why it became an offence.
“He learns, as a result of the charges, it was not a child, and was someone pretending to be a child.
Accused’s online activity was a ‘fantasy land’
“It’s accepted he was the victim of these paedophile hunters.
“He fell for it in the first complaint, and sadly he went on to repeat it with regard to his conduct in the second complaint.
“He can’t understand why people do that.”
Ms Bentley accepted her client had sent the inappropriate messages, but added he had not gone “any further”, describing it as a “fantasy land” for him.
She added McBain’s mother, who is in her 80s and keeps poor health, had been badly affected by the incident, with a paedophile hunter group turning up at the address to confront him.
Ms Bentley said: “She became very ill and very upset at their conduct as well as her son’s.”
Sheriff Margaret Hodge ordered McBain, of Seaview House, Seaton, to be supervised for three years and to complete the Moving Forward, Making Changes programme.
She also made him subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act for three years.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court previously heard the three online groups involved 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.
McBain sent a decoy his address and pictures of himself
“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.”
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.”