A MAN who sent thousands of sexually explicit messages to three 14 year old girls while pretending to be a teenager from Edinburgh has been given a community payback order.
Grant Morris, of Voeside, Bressay, was placed under supervision for two years and ordered to carry out 225 hours of unpaid work.
During sentencing at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday, the 38-year-old was also given conditions which place restrictions on the usage of devices to access the internet.
Morris previously pleaded guilty to the course of conduct towards three school friends during a 15-month period.
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 previously 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”.
Morris began communicating with two of her friends, both of whom made him aware of their age.
He was arrested in September 2020 and made a “full and comprehensive admission”, the court previously heard.
Mackenzie told the court in a previous hearing that there had never been any suggestion from Morris of attempting to meet up with any of the girls in person.
At Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday following the preparation of a criminal justice social work report, defence agent Keith Tuck said his client was in a “very dark place” in his life at the time of the offences.
He has accepted his involvement in the offences and was “honest enough to own up”, the court heard.
Tuck added that “since appearing in court initially he did a great deal to face up to his own responsibilities”, including looking at underlying factors.
Sheriff Ian Cruickshank described it was a “very serious matter” involving girls who were “no doubt vulnerable” due to their age and development.
He said the custody threshold had been passed, but noted that sentences have to be fair and proportionate, and that prison does not always address underlying causes of offending.
Taking into account all matters, Cruickshank felt a community payback order was appropriate as an alternative to custody.
The conduct requirements include not possessing any device which can access the internet without prior approval, and not deleting any communications on any device.
Morris – who was previously placed on the sex offenders registers – also must make any device accessible to social workers on request.
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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