A “sexual predator” with a “profoundly troubling” interest in young boys has been jailed for four years.
Robert Strachan used dating app Grindr to seek out and groom victims and had graphic sexual conversations with users who said they were children, one as young as 11.
The 42-year-old tried to induce his victims to meet him, and some messages suggested meetings had already taken place.
Strachan appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court via a video link to be sentenced, having previously pled guilty to more than a dozen offences.
A Crown narrative of the offences previously read to the court stated Strachan exchanged sexual messages with a user on an app called Grindr on August 6 2019.
The narrative said: “Near the end of the conversation the user said he was 15 years old. The accused thereafter said he would like to meet the user.”
On September 6 2019 Strachan exchanged messages with another Grindr user.
The narrative stated: “Early in conversation the user said he would be 15 in a few weeks.
“The accused asked the user to send him images. Images were exchanged. These images have not been recovered, however, it can be inferred they are sexual in nature.
“Furthermore, following the user stating he was 14-years-old, the accused sent several messages explicitly talking about having sexual intercourse together.
“The accused also tried to arrange to meet the user.”
Between November 22 and June 22 2019, Strachan sent further messages to another Grindr user.
In the Crown narrative, it states: “The user said he was 11-years-old. They discussed meeting for sexual activity.
“The conversation continued with the accused sending highly-sexualised messages in which he discussed having sexual activity with the user.
“Images were exchanged between them which it can be inferred are sexual.”
On July 7 2020 Strachan exchanged messages with yet another Grindr user and “chatted about meeting for sex”. When Strachan asked the user’s age, he replied 15.
Between August 31 and September 2 2020, Strachan exchanged messages with a user on messaging app Kik.
He asked the user about school and “whether his gay school friend would meet them and engage in sexual activity with them”.
The narrative stated: “The accused graphically discussed meeting and engaging in sexual activity with the user.
“From the conversation, it is clear they had met before.
“An extreme conversation took place about sexual devices.
“The user told the accused that his friend was 15. The accused replied ‘so r u baby’, implying the accused was aware the user is 15.”
None of the child users were traced by police for questioning.
Strachan, a prisoner of HMP Grampian, pled guilty to a total of 13 charges.
He admitted four charges of attempting to communicate indecently with an older child, aged under 16, and one of attempting to communicate indecently with a younger child, aged under 13.
Strachan also admitted eight charges of, while subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act, failing to notify police of various online usernames.
Defence agent David Sutherland accepted a custodial sentence was “inevitable”.
He explained Strachan had faced issues during his childhood.
Referring to the users Strachan had communicated with, Mr Sutherland said: “He accepts that they are victims and will clearly have been affected by their involvement in the crimes to which he has pled guilty.”
Sheriff Summers’ comment and sentence
Sheriff William Summers told Strachan: “You are a registered sex offender.
“I was able to read the social work report before the case called, and I have listened to what Mr Sutherland said on your behalf.
“You will understand the social work report makes troubling reading.
“It’s quite clear you are a sexual predator and have a profoundly troubling interest in young children, particularly young boys.
“You appear to lack victim empathy.
“The offences form a grave course of criminal conduct perpetrated over a number of months. It’s clear they involved considerable planning.
“It seems to me you accept limited responsibility for the commission of the offences.
“It’s quite clear, given the number, nature and gravity of the offences that the only appropriate disposal is the imposition of a custodial sentence.”
He added some of the offences “involved grooming these children and trying to make arrangements to meet with them or exchange indecent images”.
Sheriff Summers imposed an extended sentence, with four years in prison and a further two years on licence.
He also made Strachan subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act for an indefinite period.