A THIRTY eight year old man has admitted sending sexually explicit messages to three 14 year old girls while pretending to be a teenager from Edinburgh.
Grant Morris, of Voeside, Bressay, pleaded guilty to the course of conduct towards three school friends during a 15-month period when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.
Between 1 May 2018 and 19 March 2019 at his home address and elsewhere he sent sexual written communications to the first victim, who was then 14, sending her sexually explicit messages via social media.
Between 1 January and 31 December 2018 he sent sexually explicit messages to a second 14 year old victim, and between 1 January 2018 and 7 March 2019 he sent sexually explicit messages to a third victim, again aged 14 at the time.
In all three cases he falsely told the girls that he was a 19 year old Edinburgh resident called Grant Merryfield.
Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said Morris had seen the first complainer broadcasting on a live streaming app and began contacting her directly via Snapchat, text and audio calls.
The content was initially “innocent in nature” but from May 2018 onwards started to become sexual and then “extremely graphic and explicit”, with a total of 59,000 messages exchanged on an “almost daily basis”.
When they made video calls he would always position himself so that his face was not visible, the fiscal added.
Morris began communicating with two of her friends, both of whom made him aware of their age.
He began flirting with the second complainer, who considered Morris and the first complainer to be boyfriend and girlfriend, which then escalated into messages of a “more overt, sexually explicit nature” that made her feel uncomfortable.
His messages to the third complainer were again initially non-sexual before becoming sexual over time, with Morris repeatedly asking her for phone sex and intimate photos.
After the second and third complainers spoke to one another about the messages, they informed the first complainer that they believed Morris was cheating on her.
She then told him that she did not want anything to do with him and told her father, a serving police officer, after which the matter was reported.
A statement was taken in March 2019 but it was not until March 2020 that the matter was transferred to police in Shetland.
After a further delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic he was arrested in September 2020 and made a “full and comprehensive admission”.
Mackenzie stressed there was never any suggestion from Morris of attempting to meet up with any of the girls in person. There were occasions during the exchanges when he made excuses to avoid doing so.
Sheriff Ian Cruickshank deferred sentence for a criminal justice social work report and restriction of liberty assessment to be prepared.
Morris will be subject to notification requirements related to sexual offences and bail was continued until 8 December – when his defence agent will offer a statement in mitigation.
Space2face Shetland is an independent and confidential service which uses Restorative Justice and the arts to bring those harmed by crime or conflict and those responsible for the harm into communication. We enable everyone affected by a particular incident to play a part in repairing the harm and finding a positive way forward.
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