A group of online paedophile hunters have hit out after an Aberdeen pervert they snared was let off with a supervision order.
Self-confessed “nasty, dirty perv” Desmond Ritchie, 47, sent obscene sexual messages and tried to meet what he thought was a 14-year-old girl called Chloe on dating app Hot or Not.
But Ritchie was in fact messaging an undercover adult acting as a “decoy”, and the group apprehended the predator at a bus stop where he had arranged to meet “Chloe”.
Yesterday at Aberdeen Sheriff Court, Ritchie was handed a three-year supervision order and told to complete the Moving Forward, Making Changes programme, as well as being made subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act for three years.
And after the court case, paedophile hunter group Hunting Online Predators Everyday (Hope) hit out at the sentence, saying it would not put others off acting in the same way.
A spokesman said: “While we are happy that he has been prosecuted, we are bitterly disappointed with the sentence.
“We feel that this sentence offers no deterrent whatsoever to him or any other individual that seeks to harm children.”
Aberdeen Sheriff Court previously heard Ritchie initially though “Chloe” was 19, but was then undeterred when she told him she was only 14, even sending her a sexual video, asking for pictures and arranging to meet her.
As a string of vile messages, sent between October 1 and 13, were narrated in the courtroom, a member of the public exclaimed “I can’t listen to this” and walked out.
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Ritchie was snared when he arrived at the meet location, a bus stop near his home, and was met by a team of adults from paedophile hunter groups Keeping Kids Safe and Hope.
The groups filmed the sting and live streamed it on Facebook before escorting Ritchie to the police station.
During a previous hearing fiscal depute Lynne MacVicar told Aberdeen Sheriff Court a one message sent by Ritchie read: “I’m a nasty, dirty perv.”
Chloe responded: “Don’t know what that means. I’m 14. That okay?”
He replied: “Naughty girl. Suppose so.”
Ms MacVicar said: “The accused asked Chloe to meet him and invited her to his house.
“He continued to ask her if she wished to engage in sexual activities and the decoy, Chloe, consistently reminded the accused she was only 14.”
Ritchie told “Chloe” she was “too young to be on here” before sending her a picture of male genitalia.
He also went on to send a video of himself performing a solo sex act before asking her to delete it.
At one stage Ritchie messaged: “Probably best you don’t speak to me. Think I’m a paedo.”
He then “indicated he liked Chloe a lot”.
Within 13 days he asked if she wanted to meet seven times and on October 12 she agreed.
They agreed to meet at a bus stop on Grampian Place and the groups sprang into action, recording Ritchie before taking him to Torry police station.
Ritchie, of Grampian Place, previously pled guilty to attempting to communicate indecently with a child, attempting to cause a child to view a sexual image and attempting to meet a person under 16 with the intention of engaging in unlawful sexual behaviour.
Defence agent John Hardie said his client was divorced and had been on the app “looking for love”, but accepted learning the girl was 14 had not affected his interaction with her.