Martin Thomson, 8 Seaforth Road, Langlees, appeared at Falkirk Sheriff Court yesterday (Thursday) having admitted conspiring with others online to commit sexual offences, including having sexual intercourse with children and engaging in other sexual activity with minors.
The 34-year-old engaged in online conversations from an address in Hallglen on January 14 with the purpose of gaining access to children.
Defence solicitor Lynn Swann told Sheriff Derek Hamilton her client had been discharged from Woodlands Resource Centre in Falkirk Community Hospital where he’d been treated for mental health issues.
The solicitor said Thomson, who had been living in homeless accommodation, “accepts he shouldn’t have got involved” and has a “limited record”.
She added: “He has a background of mental health difficulties which he’s tried to address.”
Sheriff Hamilton said: “He’s been convicted of a conspiracy rather than just a series of messages.
“This is an extremely serious matter. Had this been simply a matter of a vile conversation, I could’ve dealt with it in one manner. It’s not that, however.”
Addressing Thomson, Sheriff Hamilton said: “You conspired with another with a view to having sexual intercourse with children.
“In my opinion, there is no alternative to a custodial sentence for an offence such as that and you have a previous conviction relative to this type of offence.
“I can’t impose a community-based alternative simply to allow you to go on a mental health programme.”
Thomson was imprisoned for two years – reduced from three as he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity – and placed on the Sex Offenders Register.
Police have welcomed the sentence and described Thomson’s behaviour as “reprehensible”.
Detective Chief Inspector Richard Banks, of the National Child Abuse Investigation Unit, said: “Thomson's online behaviour was reprehensible with no regard to the young victims.
“He believed that the internet would provide anonymity and allow him to undertake his offending undetected.”
DCI Banks said lockdown increased the risk of offending online.
He added: “We encourage anyone with concerns about a child at risk of abuse, or a potential victim, to contact police immediately.”