A sex offender was caught after the young girl he was chatting to online turned out to be an undercover policewoman.
Thomas Farrar, 58, believed he was chatting to a 13-year-old girl called Sophie when he logged on to the popular chat site Lycos.
But the Dunbar man was unaware the young teenage girl’s profile had been set up by undercover police officers in a bid to catch online predators.
During the chat sessions Farrar made “vile comments” to ‘Sophie’.
Farrar, who logged on to the chat site with the user name Mad-Cheffy, told ‘Sophie’ he wanted to teach her how to make love properly.
The chat sessions then switched between the Lycos site and Skype before Farrar asked the girl if she would be willing to meet up with him at a hotel near to her Cumbria home during the pair’s online contact last year.
Police swooped on Farrar’s home in East Lothian, after logging his computer IP address.
He appeared at Haddington Sheriff Court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to intentionally sending sexual communication to an undercover police officer, who he believed may be a child between 13 and 16, over a period between November 13 and 20 last year. Farrar has now been banned from owning computer equipment and placed on the sex offenders’ register for the next three years.
Solicitor Matthew Patrick said it was possible Farrar was “not targeting children” during his illicit online chat sessions, but had “lost a sense of reality to what was going on”.
Mr Patrick added Farrar was a “sad and lonely individual who has been living an online life” who would willingly accept any restrictions on him accessing the internet.
Sheriff Peter Braid said: “The comments you made were vile and if you had been speaking to a 13-year-old girl rather than an undercover policewoman you almost certainly would have received a custodial sentence. Nonetheless, I am satisfied in your case there is an alternative to custody.”
Sheriff Braid also sentenced Farrar to a 200-hour unpaid work order. Farrar’s Lycos profile, which is still active, shows 452 females visited his page, but only 34 males.